The Giants may have no choice but to spend big on star free-agent safety

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

The New York Giants‘ upcoming off-season is littered with difficult decisions that will define the organization’s future. With the vultures circling Brian Daboll’s head after several negative articles painted him in a bad light, the Giants are simply hoping to continue building their team and stop it from falling apart at the seams.

One of the front office’s more difficult choices will be whether to extend Xavier McKinney or let him walk in free agency. McKinney is naturally looking for a payday and wouldn’t take too kindly to the franchise tag.

Star running back Saquon Barkley was extremely frustrated after being tagged last off-season, but McKinney is a bit more outspoken and may hold out for a new deal, which he earned coming off a dominant 2023 season.

After fracturing several fingers in an ATV accident during the BYE Week in 2022, McKinney’s future was on the line in a contract year.

Now 25 years old, the former second-round pick out of Alabama has developed into one of the top free safeties in the league and helped keep the Giants’ defense together at times.

Against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 18, he recorded two interceptions, posting his best coverage grade of the year. He finished the season playing 1,128 snaps, playing every single down for the Giants on defense. He collected 94 tackles with a 5.7% missed tackle rate, including 288 yards allowed in coverage, three interceptions, and three pass breakups. He didn’t let up a single touchdown in coverage, but his ability to step up and help support the run defense continues to bolster his stock.

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The Giants Would Feel the Loss of Xavier McKinney

The Giant simply can’t replace him in the draft or free agency, so they will have to make a decision on his future, especially after they decide on their new defensive coordinator following the departure of Wink Martindale.

With young cornerback Deonte Banks expected to take over the top role, the Giants have a bit of experience in the secondary, and McKinney not only knows what it takes to play in New York but has been consistent with his level of performance.

According to PFF, McKinney ranks fourth among safeties in the NFL, behind Antoine Winfield Jr., Jessie Bates, and Jevon Holland. However, he posted the best coverage grade of the top four and the best tackling grade, per PFF. Another team will love having him in the defensive backfield, and there will undoubtedly be interest regarding his services.

However, the Giants don’t have a ton of salary space in the future unless they expect to take the out in Daniel Jones’s contract after the 2024 season. If they are keen on getting out of that deal, they can afford to extend McKinney on a lucrative contract, but it also depends on the new defensive scheme they will usher in and the reliance on an elite free safety with flexible coverage qualities.

For now, it is safe to say the Giants will be interested in bringing him back, but McKinney is looking for the biggest payday, and the Giants will have to pay up if they want to retain him.