METAIRIE, La. — The New Orleans Saints agreed to a three-year, $28.5 million contract on Tuesday night with former New York Jets safety Marcus Maye after long losing the free safety of Marcus Williams left for the Baltimore Ravens earlier today, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
The deal includes $15 million in guarantees, a source told Fowler.
The Saints also reached an extension with veteran cornerback Bradley Roby, who was heading into the final year of his contract after New Orleans traded him a third-round draft pick last September, according to a source.
Both deals were first reported by the NFL Network.
Maye, who turned 29 on March 9, was drafted in the second round in 2017 — three picks ahead of Williams — and has been a full-time starter for the Jets ever since. However, he tore his Achilles tendon in November while playing under the franchise tag. His rehabilitation is said to be going well, but his availability for training camp is uncertain.
Maye is also facing a possible suspension from the league stemming from a drunk driving arrest last February in South Florida, which was only made public after an ESPN report in October. The Jets were blindsided by the news; Maye never told them about it, which is a violation of league policy. The case is still pending in the Broward County court system.
When healthy, Maye should plug right in as a free starting safety for a Saints defense that has become one of the best in the NFL under new head coach Dennis Allen since the Saints drafted stars like cornerback Marshon Lattimore and Williams in 2017.
The Saints allowed Williams to test the market in part because of their salary cap constraints; he ended up agreeing to a five-year, $70 million deal with Baltimore, which included $37 million guaranteed, according to a source. The Saints started the offseason about $75 million over the cap. However, they were able to go below the cap without removing a single actor – doing most of the work by restructuring contracts to push capping costs back in future years.
And they remain a top contender to land Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in a blockbuster trade, which would require more cap feuds.
Maye (6ft, 207lbs) last year rejected a proposed long-term contract from the Jets that would have included $20m in guarantees – betting on himself signing the one-year tender for a franchise worth $10.6 million. Negotiations turned acrimonious when Maye’s agent criticized the Jets’ tactics on Twitter.
Maye expressed frustration that a long-term deal was not reached, hinting at training camp that he might seek a trade at some point, but it never came to that. He lost his influence when he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in a Nov. 4 game against the Indianapolis Colts and underwent season-ending surgery.
It was a lost season for Maye, who also missed three games with an ankle injury. He was limited to six games, compiling no interceptions and one sack.
His best season was 2020, when he started every game, made two interceptions and set career highs for sacks (two) and passes defended (11). A natural free safety, he showed his versatility by playing more than ever in the area. He was voted the Jets MVP by his teammates that season.
Maye, who played in Florida, immediately established himself with the Jets as a regular, if not spectacular, defenseman. The biggest knock is that he’s not a ballhawk – with just six interceptions in 60 career games.
Roby, who turns 30 in May, had one year and $10 million remaining on his contract. There was speculation that he could be a potential cap victim, as he played a part-time role with the Saints last year behind rookie starter Paulson Adebo. However, the Saints wanted to find a way to keep it. And an extension will allow them to lower its ceiling figure in 2022.
Roby (5-11, 194), was a Denver Broncos first-round pick in 2014 and started 50 career games with the Broncos, Texans and Saints, with 11 interceptions, 80 pass defenses, eight forced fumbles and a touchdown. .
ESPN’s Rich Cimini contributed to this report.