Giants could ‘transition tag’ star safety ahead of deadline

nfl: new england patriots at new york giants, xavier mckinney

The New York Giants have until 4 PM to decide on using their franchise tag. Reports have already emerged that they will not tag Saquon Barkley, who will hit the open market and look for a new contract.

General manager Joe Schoen doesn’t want to pay over $10 million per season for Saquon’s services and will allow him to test his options. Still, with a deep running back free agency class, it is unlikely he will get a substantial payday.

Evaluating the Giants’ Options for Xavier McKinney

If Barkley fails to receive big money, the Giants could settle with him on a compromise and bring him back. However, Xavier McKinney is a whole different story. If the Giants franchise tag McKinney, he will count $17.123 million against the cap in 2024. While that is certainly a lofty price tag, it will keep the Giants away from a long-term commitment and lock in a young player for the 2024 campaign.

READ MORE: Three free agent RBs the Giants could target to replace Saquon Barkley

Transition Tag Consideration and McKinney’s Market Value

However, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post, the Giants are considering using the transition tag, which would pay him $13.815 million and allow other teams to negotiate on a long-term extension.

Essentially, the Giants would use this to see what other teams are willing to offer McKinney on the open market, and they will have the chance to match any contract he lands. This may be a strategy to see if other teams value McKinney worse or better than the Giants do, which could ultimately hurt their ability to retain him or see his value drop slightly and get him at a cheaper price point.

McKinney is coming off an elite 2023 season where he played every defensive snap, including 1,128. He collected 94 tackles with a 5.7% missed tackle rate, including three interceptions and three pass breakups. McKinney is considered one of the best tacklers in the game and had a top five coverage grade.

Overall, the Giants know he is an important part to the secondary and retaining him should be a priority. However, they may not believe his asking price is what he will ultimately get on the market and are willing to roll the dice on potentially getting him at a more affordable rate.

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