The New York Giants have a significant decision to make concerning the future of Xavier McKinney and a potential long-term contract extension.
McKinney is coming off a stellar 2023 season, recording 94 tackles and a 5.7% tackle rate, allowing 288 yards in coverage and collecting three interceptions. He put together arguably his best performance in Week 18 against the Philadelphia Eagles, recording two interceptions and four tackles.
McKinney is a leader on defense, just 25 years old, and is in line to earn a significant payday. His flexibility to play in the box and free safety give him substantial value. However, the Giants may consider pivoting to another proven commodity on the free agent market, Antoine Winfield Jr.
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Could the Giants Consider the Other Top Free Agent Safety?
Winfield has been tremendous for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the past few seasons but may come in at a slightly cheaper cost than McKinney. This past season, he posted 89 tackles, a 7.9% missed tackle rate, 400 yards allowed in coverage, three interceptions, and eight pass breakups. He’s been stellar over the past few years as a key run defender in Tampa Bay’s defense but also adequate in coverage.
Winfield is a bit more proficient as a run-defender than McKinney, but the Giants’ former second-round pick is a bit more efficient in coverage. They have different strengths, but at this point, the Giants should consider who is best to lead their defensive backfield, and Winfield not only has playoff experience but a Super Bowl ring as a sophomore.
From the same draft class and their birthdays just eight days apart, the Giants will have an option to consider replacing McKinney with another premium player. Of course, McKinney’s leadership and familiarity with the Giants give him a bit more value since general manager Joe Schoen knows his personality. With that being said, Winfield is a proven winner and also has the same leadership to offer a defense.
At the very least, the Giants have options and they shouldn’t rule out the idea of swapping free safeties, especially if their defensive scheme changes with the hiring of a new coordinator.