Marcus Maye would instantly improve Jaguars’ secondary

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 27: Marcus Maye #20 of the New York Jets shows displeasure - Jaguars (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 27: Marcus Maye #20 of the New York Jets shows displeasure - Jaguars (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images) /

The Jacksonville Jaguars may have a crowded safety room but they should still consider pursuing Marcus Maye in this year’s free agency.

The New York Jets may be moving on from safety Marcus Maye, but he’s a veteran that’s worth keeping an eye on this offseason. The Jaguars are relatively young in the defensive backfield with Andre Cisco, Daniel Thomas, and possibly Andrew Wingard if he were to return. However, Jacksonville would benefit from having Maye in the backfield. At 28, he’s in the prime of his career, though there are health concerns.

Back in October, Maye’s season came to a sudden end after he injured his Achilles against the Indianapolis Colts. Though his injury is one of the most difficult to overcome, if he can regain his form, Maye will bring solid coverage skills, run defense prowess, and a notable presence in the pass-rushing department.

Pro Football Focus gives the 2017 second-round pick a 74.0 rating for run defense and a 67.7 rating for rushing opposing quarterbacks. Depending on who runs the Jaguars’ defense in 2022, these attributes would be of benefit. In Maye’s last full season (2020), he blitzed 23 times and accumulated two sacks. He also got into opposing backfields eight times in the last two years, recording more tackles for a loss than any other Jaguars defensive back last season.

Would Marcus Maye be worth the trouble for the Jacksonville Jaguars?

One concern would be Maye’s opinion of himself. His negotiations for a long-term deal didn’t end well in New York before last season. In all likelihood, Maye will be looking for a large deal, which is something Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke might not be comfortable with, given his health.

Although the Jags gave Rayshawn Jenkins a four-year $35 million contract last season, they should consider dipping their toes in free agency once again, as none of their safeties have played to Maye’s level last year, at least not yet. While physically Maye and the aforementioned Cisco and Thomas are physically similar, their talents are worlds apart. Maybe has consistently shown the ability to get quarterbacks but he’s also a tried-and-true ballhawk.

In the last three seasons, Maye has amassed three interceptions, 20 pass deflections, and two forced fumbles. The fact that Maye has only surrendered 300 passing yards in the last two seasons is highly noteworthy.

If there’s a common theme in the NFL, it’s that having a crowded defensive back’s room is never a bad thing. Injuries happen all the time, which is exacerbated by the longer regular season. Yes, the Jaguars must spend money in free agency on wide receivers and offensive linemen. While that’s true, building a defense is another foolproof way to help Trevor Lawrence.

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