Three free agents the Giants need to extend this offseason

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) catches the ball as New York Giants cornerback Nick McCloud (44) pursues during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants will look to make some big changes this upcoming offseason, but some players could be a part of what the team is building for the long term. A number of guys will enter the offseason as free agents, most notably safety Xavier McKinney and running back Saquon Barkley. Here are three free agents that the Giants need to extend this offseason:

The Giants need to extend Xavier McKinney

Starting off with arguably the team’s most impactful defender last season, McKinney could be in for a massive payday.

The fourth-year safety got off to a slow start but finished the season strong and ended with having played every defensive snap of the season. He had a career-high 116 total tackles, three interceptions, two tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and a quarterback hit.

Undoubtedly a career year in what was also a contract year, McKinney is set to become one of the league’s highest-paid safeties. The defense was one of the team’s lone bright spots in 2023, and McKinney was a leader among that group.

Aside from an awkward mid-season feud between him and former defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, McKinney has been viewed as a vocalist in the Giants’ locker room, which along with his strong on-field performance, warrants a long-term extension.

Maintaining depth in the backfield

With the possibility of Saquon Barkley leaving the Giants looming large, they may require the services of backup running back Matt Breida a whole lot more. A free agent this offseason, the veteran back showed some flashes of decent play during the stretch when Barkley was out with an injury earlier in the season.

While none of his numbers were mind-blowing (151 rushing yards on 55 attempts in 2023), he has shown the capability to make plays as both a runner and receiver, even if they aren’t massive gains.

If Breida were to be extended, it would be a considerably small contract that may not exceed more than two seasons. However, considering the extreme uncertainty surrounding the team’s running back position, it may be a safer bet to go cheap and extend Breida as opposed to breaking the bank for a household name on the market as the offense continues the rebuilding process.

Nick McCloud is one of the defense’s underrated players

A restricted free agent this offseason, cornerback Nick McCloud demonstrated some very solid performances in the opportunities he was given this past season.

Pro Football Focus (PFF) gave him a final season grade of 74.8, and he finished the season with two pass deflections, an interception, and allowed a completion rate of 60.9% with 128 yards in pass coverage.

Given the struggles that the Giants saw with Adoree Jackson and Tre Hawkins II, McCloud may be deserving of another opportunity to prove himself in the NFL, which could benefit the organization long-term.

As New York continues to build toward their future, extending McCloud and developing him into a solid pass protector would serve as a low-risk, high-reward move that can pay off big time in the years to come.

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