PFF says the Giants ‘can’t afford to lose’ their star safety in free agency

New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney (29) reacts before the game against Green Bay Packers at MetLife Stadium
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney is in danger of hitting the open market this offseason. McKinney is an impending unrestricted free agent and the Giants have yet to begin negotiations with the 24-year-old on a long-term extension.

McKinney reportedly reportedly plans on testing the free-agent market this offseason. This would decrease the Giants’ likelihood of retaining their star safety. But Pro Football Focus argues that McKinney is the one free agent that Big Blue can’t afford to lose.

PFF says the Giants “can’t afford to lose” Xavier McKinney this offseason

The 2023 season ended up being a career year for McKinney. He totaled a career-high 116 combined tackles this season to go along with 11 passes defended and three pass breakups.

McKinney graded out particularly well on PFF. He made their 2023 All-Breakout Team for his efforts this season, furthering compelling the site to list McKinney as a free agent that Big Blue must retain this offseason:

“McKinney was an elite coverage player in 2023 in effectively every subset of play,” PFF’s Brad Spielberger wrote. “He earned a 91.2 overall grade and top-seven coverage grades among safeties when the defense did not get pressure and on passes in under three seconds. He also tallied three interceptions to go along with three more pass breakups.”

Despite his excellent performance this season, McKinney could be on his way out of New York. Mid-season tension between McKinney and the coaching staff could play a role in his eventual departure, as Spielberger wrote:

“McKinney illustrated this season why he was an early second-round pick, flashing athleticism at all three levels of the defense, but there was some friction with defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, who pushed his way out of the organization after the season.”

Martindale’s absence from the building could serve to benefit McKinney, but it could also potentially stunt the safety’s performance. McKinney thrived in Martindale’s system the past two seasons and a scheme change could hinder his performance. However, Martindale’s absence could also encourage McKinney to return to New York as their friction reportedly had the star safety ready to pack his bags and play elsewhere.

Losing McKinney could hurt the Giants’ locker room

In addition to the value he adds on the field, the Giants’ front office must also consider McKinney’s impact on the locker room. He is one of the team’s top leaders and losing him could hurt the status of the locker room.

Paying a safety top dollar may be difficult for some fans to fathom. But McKinney has proven to be worth the wages as a true leader and stud playmaker on the back end of the Giants’ defense.

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