Giants star safety entering make-or-break season in 2023

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Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants‘ secondary is led by standout safety Xavier McKinney. Entering the final year of his contract, McKinney still has plenty to prove before he earns a long-term extension. This season will be a make-or-break year for McKinney as he attempts to play his way to a lucrative second contract.

Injuries could prevent Xavier McKinney from getting his payday

McKinney has proven to be a tremendous talent for Big Blue through his first four seasons. However, injuries have held him back from reaching his full potential. McKinney has missed 18 games with injuries in his career already, playing the entirety of just one season.

In a fully-healthy 2021 season, McKinney totaled a slew of career-highs including five interceptions, 10 pass breakups, and 93 combined tackles. However, after breaking his hand during the team’s bye week in 2022, McKinney failed to take that next step. In 2023, McKinney needs to stay healthy and have a season similar to that of 2021 in order to earn his payday.

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What could an extension look like for McKinney?

The highest-paid safety in the NFL is Derwin James whose average annual salary is $19 million per year. Currently, on his second-round rookie contract, McKinney makes an average of $2.1 million per season. While he will undoubtedly receive a significant pay raise, it is unlikely McKinney could come close to reaching a salary that rivals James.

Realistically, McKinney’s next contract will land him in the $10-12 million range, comparable to the likes of Justin Reid, Amani Hooker, and Tyrann Mathieu. However, how high McKinney’s salary goes hinges on his ability to stay healthy.

The Giants need a big season out of McKinney

As a captain on the Giants’ defense, New York needs a big season out of McKinney. For McKinney, it is a make-or-break season as he seeks a long-term extension.

If McKinney manages to have an elite season, potentially setting new career highs in interceptions and combined tackles, the Giants may wind up making him their next high-priority extension. But another season riddled with injuries could spell doom for such an extension as it will make it difficult for New York to commit to their free safety long-term.