Jets should deal whatever tradeable assets they have, including Marcus Maye and Jamison Crowder

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Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh treated image green background
Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh treated image green background

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – The last thing Robert Saleh needs right now, with his roster crumbling beneath him, is for GM Joe Douglas to trade some of his players away. Injuries have already shredded the team he thought he had. The roster has been depleted enough.

But Saleh understands that what happens between now and Tuesday afternoon isn’t really about this season, and that this season isn’t really about the final record anyway. It’s all about building a better future for this star-crossed franchise.

And that probably means trading away a player or two who just aren’t part of the long-term plan.

“I’m in complete lockstep with Joe,” Saleh said on Wednesday. “If it’s something that’s going to help us, awesome. But I also know we’re not looking for a fire sale here.”

Well, first of all, the Jets can’t have a fire sale when they don’t have much to sell – and with just three wins in their last 22 games since the start of the 2020 season, most of the league won’t be looking to them for help. Douglas and Saleh have pretty much gutted the roster in an attempt to start from scratch in their rebuilding effort. And most of their best players are either too young to give up or are veterans – like defensive end Carl Lawson – who are hurt.

But there are a couple of players they really should consider dealing for whatever draft picks they could get. Safety Marcus Maye and receiver Jamison Crowder are almost certainly not part of the Jets’ long-term future. And both could possibly bring the Jets a decent draft pick in return.

Jan 3, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots running back Sony Michel (26) rushes against New York Jets free safety Marcus Maye (20) during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium.
Jan 3, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots running back Sony Michel (26) rushes against New York Jets free safety Marcus Maye (20) during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium.

Maye is the obvious choice for the Jets to deal, since many have wondered for a while if he even wants to be here anyway. He wasn’t happy in the offseason when the Jets used the franchise tag on him rather than give him a long-term contract. He skipped the offseason workout program and then, a few weeks ago, his agent hinted on Twitter that he’d welcome a trade.

And he should because it’s hard to see the Jets giving him that long-term contract in the offseason. Safeties make a lot of money these days and Maye will surely be looking for a contract worth $12-14 million per season. That’s a ton of money for a good player who, in his four-plus years with the Jets, simply hasn’t made enough game-changing plays.

But he’s still good enough where he could have value to a team in contention that needs secondary help. The Seattle Seahawks, with Maye’s old teammate Jamal Adams, and the Tennessee Titans come to mind. The Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where Maye’s old coach (Todd Bowles) is the defensive coordinator, might want to take a look, too.

Would losing him hurt the Jets’ banged-up defense in the short term? Sure. But not nearly as much as they were hurt by losing linebacker C.J. Mosley last week. And next year, the Jets could bring back veteran Lamarcus Joyner and go with Ashtyn Davis, last year’s third-round pick. Even if Maye only brings back a fifth-round pick from a contender that wants to shore up its defense, it’s hard to imagine he’d really be missed.

The situation is a bit trickier with Crowder, who was only brought back this season after he agreed to a significant pay cut, which is a strong indication that he won’t be back next year. It’s generally hard to justify getting rid of a veteran receiver when you’re trying to break in a rookie quarterback like Zach Wilson who needs reliable players he can lean on as he navigates his first year in the NFL.

But first of all, that really hasn’t happened. Crowder has played only three of six games due to injuries and hast just 15 catches for 119 yards and a touchdown. And maybe more importantly, Crowder is standing in the way of younger, more promising players who truly have a place in the Jets’ future plans. Crowder played 80 percent of the snaps in the Jets’ embarrassing, 54-13 loss in New England on Sunday. Meanwhile, rookie Elijah Moore (57 percent) and second-year pro Denzel Mims (31 percent) played a lot less.

Sep 13, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (82) runs into the end zone for a touchdown in front of Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson (24) during the third quarter at Bills Stadium.
Sep 13, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder (82) runs into the end zone for a touchdown in front of Buffalo Bills cornerback Taron Johnson (24) during the third quarter at Bills Stadium.

Moore and Mims need to play more, so the fewer obstacles in front of them, the better. And there are plenty of contenders that wouldn’t mind adding another receiver. It’s clear to everyone that the New Orleans Saints desperately need one. Aaron Rodgers surely wouldn’t be opposed to adding someone who could play with Davante Adams, too.

Would either Maye or Crowder bring back much? Not likely. Maybe just a couple of mid-to-late-round picks to add to the Jets’ already-impressive stable of nine picks in the 2022 draft. But there’s no real point in keeping them around just to let them leave when their contracts expire, especially since the Jets – with more than $60 million in cap room to spend next offseason – aren’t likely to be in line for any compensatory draft picks for them.

That makes dealing them a no-brainer if there’s any market at all, even if it’ll hurt the team in the short-term. Any compensation for those two players is better than losing them for nothing a few months from now.

“If it’s something that will help us, great,” Saleh said. “If it’s not, great. Forcing things is not Joe’s forte. He’s very deliberate. He communicates with us all the time. I’m with Joe.”

That’s good, because coaches usually have short-term thinking while the GMs are the ones with the long-term plan. But the Saleh-Douglas duo knows everything they do now is about their long-term future. So maybe they don’t have enough assets for a “fire sale,” but it’s surely in their best long-term interests to sell off what they’ve got.