Giants Pushed to Extend ‘Team’s Most Impactful Defender’ of 2023

Giants contract extension rumors for Xavier McKinney.

Getty Should the New York Giants work out a long-term deal with starting safety Xavier McKinney?

Xavier McKinney will be one of the New York Giants’ biggest decisions of the 2024 offseason.

Entering free agency for the first time in his career, McKinney should make a fair amount on the open market as a consistent former second-round selection that is just 24 years of age. Empire Sports Media’s Dylan Backer argued that the Giants shouldn’t let it get that far on January 16.

“The Giants need to extend Xavier McKinney,” the NFL writer urged, noting that the defensive back was “arguably the team’s most impactful defender last season.”

“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,” Backer went on. Reasoning: “He had a career-high 116 total tackles, three interceptions, two tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and a quarterback hit.”

His Empire Sports Media colleague Alexander Wilson also pointed out that “according to PFF, McKinney ranks fourth among safeties in the NFL, behind Antoine Winfield Jr., Jessie Bates, and Jevon Holland.” Out of the four, the Giants safety recorded the best coverage and tackling grades too.

“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,” Backer concluded, “which along with his strong on-field performance, warrants a long-term extension.”

Latest Contract Projections for Giants S Xavier McKinney

Most Big Blue fans would probably agree with Empire Sports Media, assuming the price is right. So, how much is McKinney expected to make in 2024? And can NYG afford to prioritize him considering their various needs at other positions?

Spotrac’s market value calculator estimates a five-year, $52.4 million contract for McKinney. A deal like that would include an average annual salary of $10.4 million, which would rank eighth for all safeties according to Spotrac.

That’s one contract projection. Another, courtesy of Pro Football Focus cap analyst Brad Spielberger, expects less for McKinney — both in terms of salary and years.

“Three years, $24.75 million ($8.25 million per year), $17 million total guaranteed,” Spielberger predicted in his top-100 free agent ranking on December 20. McKinney placed 43rd on the list.

“McKinney’s coverage grades as a free safety (81.4) and in the box (79.4) are top-10 marks among safeties in 2023, and there is a big enough sample size of box play despite his general deployment as a deep player,” Spielberger voiced as analysis. “Over the past three seasons, McKinney’s 7.0 yards allowed per target in coverage ranks top-25 among safeties, and his 17 combined interceptions and forced incompletions put him in the top 20.”

Although the PFF expert believed McKinney “could make more plays at or near the line of scrimmage,” he also acknowledged that “he rarely whiffs on open-field tackles.”

“The 24-year-old has missed just 7.8% of his tackle attempts over his career, 11th-best among 89 safeties with at least 100 tackles over the past four seasons, making him a reliable enough last line of defense,” Spielberger finished.

McKinney’s value appears to be up for debate around the NFL community, making him a tricky free agent for the Giants. If outbid by another team, will general manager Joe Schoen concede defeat and allow the young playmaker to depart similar to Julian Love last winter?

Giants Defensive Coordinator Search Up to 5 Known Candidates

With Martindale gone, the Giants need a new defensive coordinator before deciding on McKinney — yet another factor to consider.

That search is now up to five known candidates after a “request to interview [Miami] Dolphins LB coach Anthony Campanile for their defensive coordinator job,” according to sources of NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero.

Campanile has been with the Dolphins since 2020, following stints with Michigan, Boston College and Rutgers in different roles. He’s also got Don Bosco Prep ties, similar to backup quarterback Tommy DeVito.

An internal candidate for the position has emerged as well — per ESPN’s Jordan Raanan — defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson.

“Henderson is going to be a popular choice among the players,” Raanan relayed. “Also provides the opportunity for some continuity. He just finished his fourth year with the Giants. Previously was the [Atlanta] Falcons passing game coordinator/secondary coach.”

The first two candidates for the DC role were Baltimore Ravens secondary coach Dennard Wilson and former Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Shane Bowen, along with Los Angeles Chargers interim coordinator Derrick Ansley on January 15.

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