New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney is in the final year of his contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. McKinney has played well in his contract year, but has he done enough to earn a long-term extension with Big Blue?
Xavier McKinney has had a great season
After a down year in 2022, McKinney has had a resurgence this season. He’s totaled 86 combined tackles through 12 games with eight passes defended and one interception. His passer rating allowed in coverage has also gone down from 93.6 in 2022 to 75.8 this season.
McKinney has been great on the back end of Big Blue’s defense this season, however, he has still not reached the level of play he demonstrated in his second season in 2021. That year, McKinney was stellar, totaling 93 combined tackles and five interceptions.
The high-level talent is clearly still there, but whether or not the Giants believe McKinney can return to that level of play will determine whether or not he receives a second contract. That, in addition to the high price tag McKinney likely commands on the market.
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Can the Giants afford to pay a top safety?
The Giants are projected to have around $47.6 million in salary cap space this offseason prior to any cuts or further roster moves (Over The Cap). McKinney will be due for his next contract which could position him near the top of the safety market.
The highest-paid safety in the NFL is currently Derwin James of the Los Angeles Chargers, whose salary comes in at $19 million per year. Followed behind him are other Pro Bowl and All-Pro caliber safeties making upwards of $14 million per season.
McKinney has never been to a Pro Bowl and has never been selected to an All-Pro team, so he’s unlikely to reach that first tier of safety money. However, that next-best tier, landing him in the $10-14 million range seems very likely.
Considering Big Blue’s salary cap space, they could very well fit McKinney under the cap. But that may come at the expense of adding upgrades on the offensive side of the ball or even extending RB Saquon Barkley.
A strong finish to this season will be crucial for McKinney as he aims to propel his way into the top tier of the safety market. But ultimately, he seems likely to land a contract exceeding the $10 million threshold on the open market.
But considering the recent increase in money being given to safeties, the Giants may be wise to lock McKinney in on a second-tier contract, which might become a bargain in a few short years.