PFF predicts Cowboys will sign Jets safety to help Dan Quinn

Sep 13, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New York Jets safety Marcus Maye (20) jogs off the field following the game against the Buffalo Bills at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 13, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New York Jets safety Marcus Maye (20) jogs off the field following the game against the Buffalo Bills at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys have 24 players set to hit free agency in March. Of those names, five are safeties: Keanu Neal, Damontae Kazee, Jayron Kearse, Malik Hooker, and Darian Thompson. Despite the Cowboys’ serious salary cap issues, they clearly cannot afford to lose essentially their entire depth chart in terms of the safety position.

Losing these five players leaves Dallas with only Donovan Wilson and Israel Mukuamu. Wilson started in three games this year and Mukuamu started in zero. That’s just not going to work. The hope is that the Cowboys can keep some of the above names or grab some players from around the league. But Dallas is also known for not spending big money on defensive guys, especially at the safety position. They have used free agency to get players, but typically none of the names are worth any fireworks. Last year, Neal, Kazee, and Hooker were all free agent signings who were thankfully able to have improved under Quinn.

Now, PFF is predicting that the Cowboys will sign New York Jets free agent safety Marcus Maye. If this name doesn’t have you jumping out of your seats, we understand. But it’s yet another example of Dallas signing a cheaper guy who they hope will have a resurrection with the Cowboys. While Cowboys Nation would love to see their team sign a safety superstar in free agency, the reality is that they will yet again likely settle for a player whose cost has dropped that they are praying is a diamond in the rough.

Maye fits that description to a T. Maye had a stellar campaign in 2020, but 2021 was a brutal season for him. His stats dropped in nearly every category and he tore his Achilles in November. He also had a DUI in October. Wow, PFF. Thanks for the awesome prediction. Maye played only six games this past season and had a meager one sack, zero interceptions, and 30 solo tackles.

PFF predicts that the Dallas Cowboys will sign New York Jets safety Marcus Maye in free agency

While he did have a terrible 2021, it is worth noting that he is a former second-round pick and his 2020 campaign was pretty great. So much so that the Jets ended up paying $10.6 million to keep Maye by putting him on the franchise tag. Obviously, the Jets are likely weeping that they threw that money away considering he only played in six games in 2021. The safety tried to get a multi-year deal done but failed to do so.

You’d think the Jets would want to re-sign a player with a lot of potential given they had the worst defense in the NFL last year. But, given what happened last offseason and the fact that Maye’s agent was campaigning for a trade before the safety even got injured, it seems possible that neither side will want to make a deal.

Even though Maye likely doesn’t want to take a pay cut, PFF predicts that he will sign for a one-year deal at about $6 million due to his injury and lack of performance. Plus, Maye will already be 28 years old next season. I know. I know. We are selling this guy terribly. But there are plus signs.

The Cowboys could get lucky to sign Maye, who has commonly been referred to as an underrated free agent, at a much lower price than he was initially expected to go for. Another plus is that Maye would fit well into Dan Quinn’s typical scheme. Quinn likes to use single-high-safety concepts, and the Jet could be the free safety Dallas needs. And, it’s been proven that guys from around the league who play under Quinn tend to have breakout years. Maybe working with Quinn is exactly what Maye needs to have a comeback year.

Whether he likes it or not, Maybe is going to have to sign a prove-it deal after his dismal year. But, he has multiple seasons of high PFF grades at deep safety that do make him a decent sign. Since 2018, the Jet earned the second-highest PFF grade possible for a free safety. The only person to receive a grade higher than him is Tennessee Titans’ Kevin Byard. So, is this a blockbuster signing? Far from it. But there is hope that Quinn could mold Maye into an integral piece of the Dallas defense.

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