Jets fans weren't alone in feeling surprised when Bless Austin was released on Wednesday.
New York's safety Marcus Maye, the veteran leader of this secondary, was also caught off guard when he heard the news.
"It was surprising for me," Maye told reporters on Thursday. "I didn't see it coming at all. I don't think anybody did."
Austin was set to enter his third season with the Jets, poised to play a key role in the Jets' young cornerback room. Instead, after reportedly trying to trade the corner, the organization simply sent him packing.
"It's tough," Maye explained. "I mean, he's been a starter for us for the past two years. So I guess we just got to figure out what's next now."
What's next is a youth movement among the defensive backs in green and white, a complete reliance on a unit that has barely any experience (if any at all).
Asked if that puts any additional pressure on Maye, who patrols center field behind them, Maye said he's accustomed to playing with young defenders next to him in the secondary.
"Pretty much used to it at this point," Maye added. "Just got to continue to get better with communication with the young guys, help get those guys caught up to speed, keep them on their toes and give them heads up."
Head coach Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas walked through the move to part ways with Austin earlier in the week, calling it a result of a numbers game, wanting to give their young players more of a chance to play and develop.
"Instead of asking Bless to take a reduced role, we’re going to give these young guys an opportunity and out of respect to [Austin], give him an opportunity to find a larger role with another team," Douglas said. "Very difficult decision because Bless is a standup guy and a hell of a competitor."
As for Maye's opinion on the group left behind with Austin out of the picture, the safety is impressed and eager to continue to work leading up to the regular season opener one week from Sunday.
"They're not scared at all. They all want to learn, they all have the passion for it, each day they come out, get better and better," Maye said. "You can see them stacking their days. So I'm excited for them. They all can fly around, they all can come up and make tackles when they need to. So it'll be interesting to see all those guys get a shot."
- Jamison Crowder Tests Positive For COVID-19; Could Miss Regular Season Opener
- Recapping the Jets' First Day of Roster Moves
- Shaq Lawson Brings 'Junk-Yard Dog Mentality' to Jets' Defense