The New York Giants’ defense was the highlight of the team during their disappointing 2023 season. Helping lead the team’s defensive efforts was fourth-year safety Xavier McKinney. Throughout his career, McKinney has been a solid defensive back in the Giants’ defense, but he’s being recognized by Pro Football Focus for his breakout campaign in 2023.
Xavier McKinney makes PFF’s 2023 All-Breakout Team
McKinney was one of two safeties selected to PFF’s 2023 All-Breakout Team this year after totaling a career high 116 combined tackles and 11 passes defended this season. PFF’s Jim Wyman explained how McKinney established himself as more than just a “capable starter” this season:
“McKinney was a capable starter for the first three years of his career with the Giants, but not much more than that,” Wyman wrote. “He has always been one of the best tacklers at the position, never earning a tackling grade below 81.0 in his NFL career.
“He took his game to new heights in 2023, posting the best coverage grade among safeties (91.2) and an impressive tackling grade (89.1). That resulted in an 87.8 PFF overall grade, placing fourth at the position. He saved his best performance for last, tormenting the Eagles’ offense with two interceptions and three run stops en route to a 95.3 game grade and a 95.5 mark in coverage in Week 18.”
McKinney was dominant down the final stretch of the season. He emerged as a true leader on the Giants’ defense this season and established himself as one of the best safeties in the NFL. However, he could be taking his tremendous talent elsewhere this offseason.
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Should the Giants extend McKinney this offseason?
After four years with Big Blue, McKinney’s rookie contract is expiring this offseason. The 2020 second-round draft pick will be an unrestricted free agent this spring and, considering the season he just had, could command a big payday on the open market.
If the Giants want to extend McKinney, they will likely need to make him a top-five highest-paid player at his position. McKinney’s estimated market value according to Spotrac comes in at $10.4 million annually. However, the market for safeties has increased in recent years with the top safeties in the NFL making anywhere from $15 million to $19 million per season.
Extending McKinney will be difficult for the Giants, especially if they also want to extend star running back Saquon Barkley on a long-term deal. But McKinney has proven his worth and value to this team. Despite the lofty price tag, the Giants should make extending McKinney a priority this offseason.