The Giants can’t afford to let one of their star players leave in free agency

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

If the New York Giants can’t afford to do anything, it’s let some of their young key pieces leave in free agency. While many will argue that retaining Saquon Barkley on an extension is the right move, the running back position is easily turned over, and the probability of injury reduces its value instantly.

The Giants will likely target a running back in the mid-rounds of the 2024 NFL draft, and why they may not be able to replicate the production of Barkley, they can certainly add a young player with a cheap salary to help smooth over the position. Of course, they will lose the leadership Barkley brings to the team, but that makes keeping Xavier McKinney even more vital.

Xavier McKinney’s Contract Situation

McKinney is looking to get a fair contract on the open market, and the Giants could end up hitting him with the transition tag. That would allow general manager Joe Schoen to match any deal a team offers but also retain him at a fixed price point on a one-year deal.

Obviously, this isn’t an ideal scenario for McKinney, who wants a long-term guaranteed contract at 25 years old. According to Over the Cap, he’s worth $13.5 million per season based on their model, but he would likely get paid even more coming off a season where he didn’t miss a single defensive snap and put together elite grades across the board.

Over 1,128 snaps, McKinney tallied 94 tackles, including a 5.7% missed tackle rate, 288 yards allowed in coverage, collecting three interceptions and three pass breakups. He didn’t give up a single touchdown and was one of the best tacklers in football at the safety position. Ultimately, the Giants can’t afford to lose a leader and a dominant piece in their secondary, especially as they transition to a new defense.

READ MORE: One affordable pass-rusher the Giants could target in free agency

Giants’ Secondary Considerations and McKinney’s Value

With the departure of Adoree Jackson, the Giants have no money invested in their secondary for the most part. They have Deonte Banks entering his second season on a fixed contract and will likely allocate a bit of salary toward a free agent.

Fortunately, the cornerback market is strong this off-season, and the Giants should be able to find a competent player to pair with Banks. However, McKinney‘s role as a versatile piece makes him even more valuable. He’s capable of playing strong safety, free safety, and even slot corner if needed.

The safety market is thin, and that will likely drive up the price for McKinney, but the Giants know what he brings to the table, and they would be losing much more than just on-field production.

At this point, the probability is they bring McKinney back on an extension, but they want to gauge his market value, and that is certainly a risk since another team could bid well above their comfort zone.

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