3 Giants playing with a lot to lose for the rest of the season

New York Giants offensive tackle Evan Neal (73) blocks San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) during the fourth quarter at Levi's Stadium
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are finishing out a lost season at 2-7 with little hope of earning victories while starting QB Daniel Jones heads to injured reserve. The playoffs do not seem like much of a possibility for Big Blue, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to play for this season.

Three Giants are playing with a lot to lose for the rest of the season and need to perform well to avoid scrutiny and career alterations in the upcoming offseason.

Xavier McKinney needs to finish strong if he wants an extension

Playing in a contract year, it has been a disappointing campaign for Xavier McKinney. Big Blue’s starting safety has yet to snag an interception this season and has found himself in the midst of several media controversies.

McKinney seemed like a candidate for a high-paying contract extension entering this season. If he played well, McKinney would be entering this offseason with plenty of bargaining power and an opportunity to become one of the highest-paid safeties in the NFL.

But considering his mediocre level of play this year, McKinney will need to play at an elite level to earn that extension by the end of the season. If not, he will be losing that opportunity and negotiating on the lower end of the safety market in the spring.

Can Azeez Ojulari return to make an impact?

Azeez Ojulari has been absent from the lineup for the last four weeks but is expected to make his return soon. According to Dan Duggan of The Athletic, Ojulari is expected to be designated to return from IR on Wednesday.

After entering this season as one of the team’s two starting edge rushers, expectations were high for Ojulari. He totaled 5.5 sacks in only seven games last season, instilling promise into the coaching staff. However, Ojulari has fallen flat this year and if he does not make an impact after returning from injury, the Giants may look for a new starting edge rusher this offseason.

The Giants need Evan Neal to turn things around

Evan Neal has arguably been the biggest disappointment on the Giants’ roster this season. Last year’s seventh-overall draft pick was expected to take a big developmental step forward in his second year after a tough rookie campaign. However, it has been more of the same for Neal who has surrendered 30 pressures in seven games with a 39.8 overall Pro Football Focus grade.

If Neal doesn’t turn things around, offensive tackle will once again be a top need for Big Blue to address in the offseason, likely leading them to sign or draft Neal’s replacement. Neal could then be moved into right guard, however, his standing as the team’s starting right tackle is on the thinnest of ice unless he strings together a slew of impressive performances to close the year.

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