Giants in danger of losing top defensive player to free agency this offseason

New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney (29) holds the ball as he celebrates with New York Giants linebacker Azeez Ojulari (51) and New York Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence II (97) after he intercepted a Philadelphia Eagles pass
Kevin R. Wexler / USA TODAY NETWORK

New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney will be a free agent for the first time in his career this offseason. After turning in the best season of his career, McKinney will be a priority extension for the Giants, but he will also command a steep payday. As free agency nears, the 24-year-old safety is ready to test the market and see what the demand is for his talents.

Xavier McKinney plans to test the market

McKinney reportedly plans on testing the free-agent market this offseason. He confirmed on social media that he is headed to the open market in the spring:

When asked whether or not he wants to come back to New York and continue playing for the Giants, McKinney gave an interesting answer:

 I mean, I can’t really – I can tell you, but I can’t really control nothing. It’s a business at the end of the day, so I just got to be where my feet are, be present and that’s really about it.

Xavier McKinney via Giants.com

McKinney did, however, give this response prior to defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s dramatic resignation from the coaching staff. According to Giant Insider, there was “no chance” that McKinney would re-sign with the Giants if Martindale was still the defensive coordinator next season. Now with a new defensive coordinator on the way, the door is seemingly open for McKinney’s return to the Big Apple.

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Should the Giants extend McKinney?

McKinney was stellar this season as he turned in the best campaign of his career. He totaled career highs with 116 combined tackles and 11 passes defended. He also snagged three interceptions and recovered two fumbles this season. His performance this year rewarded McKinney a spot on Pro Football Focus’ All-Breakout Team.

This season, McKinney put any durability questions to rest. He missed significant time in two of his previous three seasons but managed to stay healthy for the duration of the 2023 season. McKinney was one of two players in the NFL to stay on the field for 100% of their team’s defensive snaps (Giants LB Bobby Okereke was the other).

McKinney was on the field for an incredible 1,128 snaps this season. He was a consistent leader and playmaker present in the Giants’ defensive backfield throughout the year. McKinney demonstrated his value to this team this offseason and made the case for a long-term extension.

An extension, however, won’t come cheap. The top three highest-paid safeties in the NFL right now on average annually make $19 million (Derwin James), $18.25 million (Minkah Fitzpatrick), and $17.5 million (Jamal Adams). McKinney will likely aim to be at the top of the market and could garner a deal paying out north of $15 million per year. Whether or not the Giants are willing to pay him such a premium contract is the question.