The New York Giants have struggled mightily over the past few seasons in the turnover department, ranking within the bottom-nine of all NFL teams in takeaways two out of the last three years. Continuously trotting out underperforming players such as Curtis Riley and Darian Thompson in the secondary will do that to a defense.
It’s safe to say the Giants entered this offseason eyeing to upgrade the backend of their unit. Specifically eyeing a ball-hawk safety to help boost their diminutive turnover numbers, namely one of 2019’s NFL co-leader in interceptions.
Giants Eyed Trade for Safety Anthony Harris
According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Big Blue engaged in trade talks with the Minnesota Vikings for star safety Anthony Harris earlier this offseason. However, sources close to Garafolo point to the Vikings’ unwillingness to “just to give him away” after placing the franchise tag on him.
Interesting note on Harris: The #Giants and #Vikings had talks about a possible trade after Harris was tagged, sources told me and these two cats below. The Vikings valued Harris and didn’t tag him just to give him away so the deal didn’t materialize. https://t.co/5gPyRBjIiw
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 15, 2020
The Vikings entered the offseason hoping to lock-up Harris for the long-term. However, contract talks between the two parties have flatlined ahead of the franchise tag deadline, leading to Harris gearing up to play the 2020 season on the tag, per Ian Rapoport.
The 28-year-old, former undrafted free agent out of Virginia played sparingly throughout his first four years in the league, starting just 11-games over that span while not registering his first career interception until Week 6 of the 2018 season.
However, 2019 was a completely different story. Harris enjoyed a breakout campaign, nailing down a starting gig across from All-Pro Harrison Smith. Harris would go on to start 14 games at safety for the Vikings last season, recording 11 passes defended and six interceptions. The latter tied with Buffalo Bills lockdown corner, Tre’Davious White, for the league-lead.
Giants’ Safety Group is Blossoming
While the Giants may have missed out on Harris, they’ve clearly solidified the backend of their defense via other avenues, namely with the addition of safety Xavier McKinney.
The ex-Alabama standout, who many pegged as a top-15 prospect coming out of Tuscaloosa, shockingly fell out of the 1st-round in the 2020 NFL draft and into the waiting hands of the Giants. McKinney will team up with starting strong safety Jabrill Peppers to give New York one of the league’s most promising safety duos.
While Harris has developed into one of the league’s best ballhawks, McKinney’s versatile skill set makes him a potential game wrecker from a multitude of levels.
The 2019 All-SEC selection was just one of only five collegiate safeties to play over 450 snaps in the box, slot and at free safety over the past two seasons. Of those three players, only McKinney received a Pro Football Focus grade of 70.0+ at all three alignments.
The addition of McKinney also allows the Giants to be more flexible with fellow defensive back Julian Love, who has experience playing both the safety and cornerback position.
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