Jets head coach Robert Saleh on Friday confirmed his worst fears when he told reporters that safety Marcus Maye, the longest-tenured player for the Green & White, would miss the rest of the 2021 NFL season after tearing the Achilles tendon in his right ankle in Thursday night’s loss at Indianapolis.
“I’ve seen the story, unfortunately, one too many times in this league,” Saleh said. “It’s never good initially, it sucks. One thing with Marcus is that he’s a young man [he’s 28] with a tremendous mindset. He’s made of grit. The ride is not over. The story’s not over. If anyone can come back from this it’s Marcus. I know it hurts now and for everyone, but he’ll come back from this. He has our full support.”
Maye is the second Jets player to sustain a season-ending Achilles tendon injury after DE Carl Lawson, signed in free agency, went down in training camp. In addition, S Lamarcus Joyner, another addition in free agency, has missed the season with a torn triceps muscle. Maye is playing this season on a franchise tag.
“I always hope all these guys continue wearing green,” Saleh said. “Even if it doesn’t, he’s still in the Jets family for life. With Marcus, hopefully he gets healthy and he’s back here.”
Maye, who was drafted by the Jets in the second round (No. 39 overall) in 2017, earlier this season missed two games with, coincidentally, an ankle injury. He returned, bringing his veteran presence to a young and evolving group of defensive backs. In six games, all starts, he checked in as second on the team in total tackles (46, 30 solo), and added 4 TFL and a sack.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. “He’s a guy that, obviously, he’s in the midst of a contract year and a lot of guys, which is normal in this league, guys in that situation can become very selfish. And I get that, too. This is a business and guys are trying to make as much money as possible.
“It can become twisted up by the contract stuff. But what is absolutely so heartbreaking is that with Marcus he was never that guy. He came in every day and worked his ass off. He laid it on the line every day. He’s the general back there, the guy with the moxie and savvy to communicate, and he’s a guy that’s been a reliable eraser for us. He’ll be sorely missed. We have a group of guys that will have to step up.”
That group currently includes Ashtyn Davis, Sharrod Neasman and Jarrod Wilson.