The Giants have a big decision to make with Xavier McKinney ahead of franchise tag deadline

New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney (29) is introduced before a game against the Los Angeles Rams at MetLife Stadium
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

With Tuesday being the deadline to give players the franchise tag, the New York Giants have a massive decision to make about safety Xavier McKinney’s future with the team.

The safety was eligible to receive a contract extension last offseason, but ultimately never got one. And now, after a strong 2023 campaign, McKinney is an impending free agent and is set to become one of the league’s highest-paid safeties.

Will the Giants place the franchise tag on Xavier McKinney?

Last week, Giants general manager Joe Schoen said that he and McKinney’s camp had not begun talks surrounding an extension, per ESPN’s Jordan Raanan. This past Friday, he sat down with McKinney’s new agent, David Mulugheta, though, obviously nothing significant materialized from that meeting.

The team must now decide whether or not to tag McKinney if they are unable to secure an extension before the deadline on March 5th. The Giants have both the franchise tag and the transition tag at their disposal. Applying the transition tag allows the team the first right of refusal to match any offer given to the player during free agency.

If they don’t tag him, McKinney will be able to test the waters of free agency, where he is sure to be a hot commodity in the open market.

McKinney had arguably his best season as a pro in 2023

The 24-year-old played every single defensive snap for the Giants this past season and recorded a career-best 116 tackles, three interceptions, and a Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade of 87.8.

Bleacher Report projects that McKinney will receive a contract of four years for $61 million ($24 guaranteed), an average annual value of $15.25 million. This would make him tied with Broncos’ safety Justin Simmons for the sixth-highest contract for a safety in the NFL, according to Over The Cap.

“McKinney is one of the top young defensive backs in the NFL, and his best football may still be ahead of him. The contract Jessie Bates III signed with the Atlanta Falcons last offseason—worth $16 million annually—should serve as a starting point in his negotiations,” said Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox.

The Giants will have plenty of cap space to get a deal done

The Giants recently cut guard Mark Glowinski, which freed up $5.7 million in cap space for them, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. They are projected to have over $35 million in cap space, according to Spotrac, so the team could be strategically planning to give McKinney a well-deserved payday.

In the short term, the Giants have to decide if placing him on the franchise tag is the best way to proceed if an extension cannot be reached in time.

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