Giants Free Agent Tipped for Reunion With Patrick Graham

Patrick Graham

Getty A key free agent for the New York Giants could reunite with former defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.

Overhauling their approach on defense could lead to the New York Giants losing key free agent Xavier McKinney. Especially if the safety is drawn to a reunion with former Giants’ defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who holds the same position with the Las Vegas Raiders.

McKinney working with Graham again is an idea put forward by Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine. He thinks a reunion “could be mutually beneficial.”

Ballentine noted how McKinney proved his versatility by “playing for two very different defensive coordinators in Patrick Graham and Wink Martindale.” While Martindale was blitz-happy, Graham tended to rely on a four-man rush to create pressure in front of man coverage.

McKinney stood out in both systems because he “thrives as the deep safety. He can still moonlight in the box, though.” That level fo flexibility is invaluable in the modern NFL, but McKinney already sounds like he’s committed to testing the free agency market and determining his value away from the Giants.

Patrick Graham Reunion Could Tempt Xavier McKinney

Graham called plays for the Giants’ defense for two seasons in 2020 and ’21. The latter was McKinney’s most productive season.

He snatched five interceptions and broke up 10 passes on Graham’s watch in 2021. McKinney also scored this touchdown against the Raiders.

Plays like that were proof of McKinney’s aptitude for the Graham playbook. It was a different scheme to what Graham had called with the Miami Dolphins in 2019.

That scheme was about “blitzing and man to man coverage,” according to John Schmeelk of Schmeelk cited Pro Football Focus to reveal Graham’s “Dolphins played man to man coverage more than 50% of the time. They played cover one, which features man to man defense and one safety deep, the second most frequently in the NFL, (tied with New England at 43%).”

The man-heavy coverage approach stayed the same, but Graham dialled back the pressure with the Giants. His unit blitzed 26.9 percent of the time in 2020, way below the league-leading 44.1 rate of the Baltimore Ravens, per Pro Football Reference. The Giants blitzed on 25 percent of snaps a season later when McKinney was becoming a playmaker on the back end.

A contrast between Graham’s strategy and what Martindale called is best summed up by how McKinney was used closer to the line of scrimmage. The 24-year-old blitzed 10 times in two seasons under Graham, but he was sent on the rush 70 times by Martindale.

If McKinney is ready to move on, he knows he’ll be used effectively in Graham’s gameplans.

Xavier McKinney Wants Fair Value

McKinney took to X on Friday, February 16 to make it clear he wants “to be appreciated in every way for what I do and bring to the table. As a player and as a leader.”

Acknowledging McKinney’s value could be tough for the Giants. It will cost $17.22 million to use the franchise tag for a safety, according to

The Giants are projected by to have $26,016,449 worth of space under the salary cap. General manager Joe Schoen does have other needs, though, including resolving the future of running back Saquon Barkley.

Ironically, Barkley has already urged the Giants to retain McKinney. A lot may depend on what the gifted defensive back thinks about Shane Bowen replacing Martindale as coordinator.

Bowen will likely run a more passive scheme, something similar to what Graham called previously. That might convince McKinney to stay put, provided the Giants meet his market value, projected to be $10.4 million annually for five years.

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