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The New York Jets are placing the franchise tag on starting safety Marcus Maye, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The franchise tag will cost New York roughly $10.5 million for one season of play from Maye, who completed his rookie contract in 2020. 

A second-round pick out of Florida in the 2017 NFL Draft, Maye has recorded six career interceptions, including two last season. He also tallied 88 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 2020. The safety is scheduled to turn 28 years old on Tuesday, March 9. Maye stepped up after fellow starting safety Jamal Adams was traded to the Seahawks. 

General manager Joe Douglas has been steadfast in his desire to retain the four-year veteran. 

“Marcus is a valuable member of this organization. Someone that started his career here, someone that’s been a pro’s pro. He’s smart, reliable and has provided outstanding leadership. Our plan hasn’t changed. We’re in the process of working to have Marcus be here long term,” Douglas said on March 3, via the team’s official website

According to Spotrac.com, the Jets have the third-most salary cap space in the league at nearly $72.5 million. He had been projected to receive $13.2 million annually on the open market. Maye is the second franchise tag to be used this offseason, joining Denver safety Justin Simmons.  The Panthers are reportedly also expected to franchise tag tackle Taylor Moton, as both sides are looking for a long-term deal in the coming days.

The Jets last used the franchise tag on defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in 2016. 

Maye is the first in a series of important off-season decisions for the franchise. The Jets hold two first-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, including No. 2 overall. The other first-round pick was acquired from Seattle in exchange for safety Jamal Adams. The decision to either retain quarterback Sam Darnold or draft his replacement is the most pressing