Here’s How Giants May Look To Keep McKinney


Dec 25, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney (29) in the tunnel against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

(East Rutherford, NJ) – Under defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, Giants safety Xavier McKinney looked like a budding star.

He intercepted five passes during his sophomore season, returning one for a TD, and recorded 93 tackles. Then, Graham left when Joe Judge got fired, and since-departed defensive coordinator Wink Martindale took his place.

Under Martindale, the Giants employed a blitz-heavy package that required players like McKinney to be more defined in their coverages and movements throughout the secondary. The ball-hawking safety was more or less no longer what he does best: roaming and playing centerfield. And accordingly, in 2022, the player drafted in the second round out of Alabama saw his production dip. McKinney’s stat line was more impressive this past season – but it seems he agreed that Martindale’s defense did not unlock his true potential.

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In a social media post shared last week on X, McKinney made clear he’s thinking about his financial future, while being realistic about the recent past: “I want to be appreciated in every way for what I do and bring to the table. As a player and as a leader. I’ve stood by myself ten toes through the critics, the hate etc. sacrificing what those around me didn’t want too or were afraid too for those same people to make it a better situation for all of us. May not always have been beneficial for me but it was for US. Don’t let that go over your head . And I’d do it 10 times over again.’’

And with McKinney about to potentially enter free agency, his immediate future is in question. At 24-years-old, reports suggest some in the Giants front office are highly motivated to work out a long term contact with McKinney – even if that means a similar deal can’t be reached with impending free agent Saquon Barkley.

Either McKinney or Barkley could get the franchise tag, but that’s not likely. If the Giants use the tag on Barkley he’d cost $12.1 million. McKinney’s franchise tag number is even higher at $16.1 million. The franchise tag is determined by the league’s highest salaries at each position.

New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney (29) celebrates the Giants 24-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022.
Nfl Ny Giants Vs Ravens

While $16.1 million may be a tough pill to swallow for the cap-strapped Giants, a separate option is reportedly being considered – and it would provide New York with the opportunity to keep McKinney off the free agent market.

The Giants and GM Joe Schoen may choose to use the similar but different “transition tag” on McKinney. That would cost New York a relatively more-palatable $13.9 million – a saving of $2.3 million over the franchise option. It would also grant the Giants the ability to use the franchise tag on Barkley instead.

Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Under the transition tag, a player can be signed away by a competing club – but the Giants have the option to match the offer. And if they choose not to, draft pick compensation will come their way.

It’s safe to say the Giants’ offseason plan largely hinges on both players – Barkley on offense, and McKinney on defense – in terms of the most difficult roster decisions for Big Blue.

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