METAIRIE, La. — The New Orleans Saints agreed to a three-year, $28.5 million contract with former New York Jets safety Marcus Maye on Tuesday night after losing longtime starting free safety Marcus Williams to the Baltimore Ravens earlier in the day, 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 a third-round draft choice for him last September, per 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 last November while playing under the franchise tag. His rehab is said to be going well, but his availability for training camp is up in the air.
Maye is also facing a possible league suspension stemming from a DUI arrest last February in South Florida, which didn’t become public until an ESPN report in October. The Jets were blindsided by the news; Maye never mentioned it to them, which is a violation of league policy. The matter is still pending in the Broward County court system.
When healthy, Maye should plug right in as the starting free safety for a Saints defense that has developed into one of the NFL’s best under new head coach Dennis Allen ever since the Saints drafted standouts 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 wound up agreeing to a five-year, $70 million deal with Baltimore that included $37 million guaranteed, per a source. The Saints began the offseason about $75 million over the cap. However, they were able to get under the cap without cutting a single player — doing most of the work by restructuring contracts to push cap costs into future years.
Maye (6-foot, 207 pounds) rejected a long-term contract proposal from the Jets last year that reportedly included $20 million in guarantees — betting on himself by signing the one-year franchise tender worth $10.6 million. The negotiations turned acrimonious when Maye’s agent criticized the Jets’ tactics on Twitter.
Maye expressed frustration that a long-term deal wasn’t reached, hinting in training camp that he might seek a trade at some point, but it never got that nasty. He lost his leverage when he suffered the 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 defensed (11). A natural free safety, he showed his versatility by playing in the box more than ever before. He was voted the Jets’ MVP by his teammates that season.
Maye, who played at Florida, immediately established himself with the Jets as a steady, if not spectacular defender. The biggest knock is that he’s not a ballhawk — with only 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 he could be a potential cap casualty, since 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 him. And an extension will allow them to lower his cap figure in 2022.
Roby (5-11, 194), was a first-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 2014 and has started 50 career games with the Broncos, Texans and Saints, with 11 interceptions, 80 pass defenses, eight forced fumbles and one touchdown.
ESPN’s Rich Cimini contributed to this report.