Jets S Marcus Maye (ankle) out 3-4 weeks, but could return before trade deadline

The Jets' franchise tag-worthy defender has been sidelined by an ankle injury that could set up for an interesting timeline for return.

Marcus Maye will be out for three to four weeks due to the injury, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday. With Maye standing as New York's top defensive player, it's a huge loss for a team that is still winless and desperate for a lucky break, not an unfortunate one.

It also might lead to their separation.

During the lead-up to New York placing the franchise tag on Maye, the safety said he wouldn't rule out requesting a trade if he received the tag. The Jets followed up by tagging him to keep him under team control for 2021 and then failed to come to terms on a long-term deal just one year after letting their other top defender, Jamal Adams, force his way to Seattle via trade.

Maye's agent, Erik Burkhardt, made an interesting point via Twitter: If the timeline holds true, Maye should return at full strength with just enough time for the Jets to strike a deal to send Maye elsewhere.

This isn't the first time Burkhardt has publicly voiced his thoughts regarding his client. Back in March, just before free agency opened, Burkhardt blasted the Jets -- a team with a plethora of cap space in 2021 -- for refusing "to take care of their best player, captain and team-voted MVP in his prime" who was even willing to change positions in a contract year to fill the void left by the Adams trade.

It seems the two sides haven't yet mended fences.

At 28 years old, Maye is in line for one big contract before he hits 30. It would seem wise for the Jets to keep him around for the next two or three years on a deal that compensates him accordingly while also capitalizing on available cap space. But the decision to sign Maye, trade him or let him walk is the privilege of the Jets, who might not see him as part of their long-term plans.

With a new coach in Robert Saleh navigating his first season at the helm of the Jets, New York might prefer to wait and see on Maye. That likely won't make him or his agent happy. Their best route toward getting what they want might end up being a deadline deal.

The league's trade deadline arrives on Nov. 2. A little over a month remains for Maye to get healthy enough to be available for trade -- and for the Jets to decide whether they're interested in shipping their top defender elsewhere for a second straight year.

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