A complicated year for Marcus Maye got a lot more complicated when it took a terrible turn on Thursday night in Indianapolis.
When the Jets’ 28-year-old fifth-year safety folded to the Lucas Oil Stadium end-zone turf in the third quarter of the Jets’ 45-30 loss to the Colts, he hadn’t even been hit. Non-contact injuries are often the scariest and most serious.
Maye, the longest-tenured player on the team and a captain, tore his Achilles tendon, ending his season and possibly his career with the Jets thanks to what appears to be irresponsible career advice from his agent.
Had Maye agreed to the contract extension the Jets offered him in the offseason, which would have paid him about $11 million per year, he wouldn’t find himself in the unsettling no-man’s land he’s in now.
Maye, who is playing on a $10.6 million franchise tag this season, now will enter 2022 with no long-term security and as damaged goods coming off a serious injury and with an off-field issue that could result in a multi-game league suspension.
It is not known whether it was Maye who rejected the Jets’ latest contract offer before being given the franchise tag or whether it was his agent, Erik Burkhardt. But the typical player-agent dynamic is the player lets the agent negotiate.
It’s believed that Maye wanted to be paid a little more than $12 million a year and the Jets compared him contractually to John Johnson, who was signed by the Browns to a three-year, $33 million free-agent contract.
Several attempts by The Post to reach Burkhardt via texts and calls this week to clarify his thinking went unanswered.
What makes whatever advice Burkhardt gave Maye even more appalling is the fact that Maye was arrested for DUI in February and didn’t tell the Jets about it until that arrest was made public on Oct. 4. Only then did he scurry into the offices of head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas to explain what had happened.
That was a one big mistake compounded by another one on the part of Maye.
The bigger mistake, though, was Burkhardt knowing there was an $11 million-per-year offer on the table with his client dealing with a DUI incident that the Jets didn’t even know about, and not taking the deal to secure Maye’s future.
That’s nothing short of player-agent malpractice.
It was an irresponsible roll of the dice at the time and now that this terrible injury has sacked Maye for the rest of the season, those dice have come up snake eyes.
Burkhardt wasn’t finished with his questionable tactics. With Maye rumored to be on the trading block as the deadline neared, the safety injured his ankle in early October and Burkhardt took to Twitter to tell the world that Maye “should be back fully healthy just before the trade deadline,” adding a handshake emoji.
If I were Maye I’d have been infuriated, but when asked about it later he laughed it off and said, “I don’t have any control over his phone.”
With all of that said about Maye and his complicated situation, this must be mentioned: There isn’t a person in the Jets building who doesn’t swear by Maye’s character and what he means to this team as a person and a player.
At the top of that list are Saleh and Douglas, who you could argue should have been ticked off that Maye kept his arrest from them until it became public.
Saleh said after the Colts game he was “sick’’ for Maye, knowing the ramifications of this injury to the player’s financial future.
“Unfortunately, I’ve seen this story one too many times in this league and it’s never good — it sucks,’’ Saleh said Friday. “But the one thing with Marcus is he is a young man, he has a tremendous mindset and he’s made of grit. His ride’s not over. His story’s not over. I know it hurts now, but he’ll come back from this.’’
Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, a former player, called the Maye situation “heartbreaking,’’ talking about how he “came into work every day and worked his ass off unselfishly.’’
Of course, Maye made a dumb mistake with the DUI. But with that DUI hanging over his head and the team unaware if it, how is it possible that Burkhardt didn’t advise Maye to take the $11 million per?
No reasonable argument can be made to dispute that the agent did his client a disservice here. And that’s a shame, because now it looks as if Maye might be another in a long list of high draft picks to leave the Jets too soon.
“This is the place that gave me an opportunity to live my dream five years ago,’’ Maye told the Jets website recently.
That dream took a debilitating hit Thursday night.
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