Marcus Maye has followed in Jamal Adams’ footsteps in one way. The Jets hope he doesn’t in another.
Maye, the fourth-year safety and Jets captain, was named the team MVP, as voted on by the players. Adams received the award the prior two years, but he forced his way out over a contract dispute and was traded to Seattle. The Jets want to hold on to Maye, who's in the final year of his deal.
One of the many things on general manager Joe Douglas’ to-do list this offseason will be to re-sign Maye. Adam Gase said Maye is someone you want to keep in your organization, and Maye said he wants to remain a Jet.
"That’s a conversation that we’re going to have at the end of the year," Maye said. "I enjoy my time here. I enjoy everything about the New York Jets. We got to finish this season out first and the rest will follow.
"Any place that I’ve always gone, I want to be there for a long time. You want stability. Everybody wants stability. That conversation will be here at the end of the year."
No contract talks have taken place yet, Maye said, but it would be foolish if the Jets let him walk after a strong season. They have more important things to sort out, and Maye showed his value this year in different ways.
Maye started the season playing on the line more and rushing the passer, the way Adams was used last year, and had 10 tackles and two sacks in Week 1. Since then, he’s been moved back to free safety and then on the line again due to circumstances and consistently made his presence felt.
Maye is second on the team in tackle with 71, behind linebacker Neville Hewitt. He has two interceptions, two forced fumbles and 11 passes defensed.
"He’s checked every box you can possibly check to win that award for us," Gase said. "He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do."
Maye, who was taken in the same draft as Adams, had been a reliable playmaker before. But with Adams gone, he has gotten the opportunity to show his versatility and he’s gotten more recognition.
He broke up the pass intended for Rams tight end Gerald Everett on fourth-and-4 last Sunday that helped preserve the Jets’ first win of the season. Maye got up, held one finger in the air and backpedaled back to the Jets’ sideline.
"He’s been the guy that’s put us in position so many times over the last few years," Gase said. "That play at the end of the game, when I saw that ball go up and I saw who it was, I was like, ‘We have as good a chance as we’ve ever had because that guy’s on him.’"
In a season filled with injury and turnover, Maye is one of only two regular defensive starters who has a chance to play every game. Hewitt is the other.
Maye also stood up for his team and rookie teammate Lamar Jackson after a gut-wrenching last-second loss to the Raiders. Maye called out former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ play call of an all-out blitz that cost the Jets the game. That earned Maye even more respect from his teammates.
"Guys have noticed the work that he’s put in and consistency in terms of his attitude that he’s had all year," Sam Darnold said. "That’s the biggest thing with him – there’s never a bad day. If he does have a bad day, he’s not going to let anybody know about it and his attitude won’t show it.
Gase praised Maye for stepping into a new role and realizing that with Adams gone he had to act a little differently.
"Those two guys had a really cool back and forth where they played off each other well," Gase said. "This year, not having Jamal with him, I think he realized, ‘I have to be more vocal. I have to do things different. Everybody’s going to be kind of looking at me to see how I practice, how I prepare, how I play games, more in the locker room than anything else’. He’s very aware in that aspect of it.
"As a coach you appreciate the fact that not a lot of players have that kind of awareness to understand, ‘I have to be a certain type of guy because all these other guys are watching me, because I’m replacing somebody that was an All-Pro player. I’m kind of in that room now.’"
That may be next for Maye. The Jets don’t want to let another one go.