Xavier McKinney

Giants Declined Opportunity To Match Xavier McKinney Contract

The Giants took a risk by letting Xavier McKinney hit free agency, and the safety ended up bolting for a lucrative deal from the Packers. Before he committed to joining Green Bay, the Giants had “strong interest” in retaining the defensive back, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post.

However, the front office was leery of handing McKinney the $17MM average annual value he ultimately earned from the Packers. That $17MM AAV puts McKinney in the top five of the highest-paid safeties in the NFL.

The Giants decided to not place the transition tag on McKinney, a decision that would have cost the team $13.8MM. As Schwartz writes, the Giants decided to not tag the safety in a “show of good faith,” although it ended up biting them when the Packers backed in with the Brink’s truck.

However, McKinney was still willing to honor the Giants’ handshake deal. As Schwartz passes along, the safety “did circle back” with the Giants and provided them an opportunity to match Green Bay’s offer. The Giants ultimately “deemed the price was too high for a safety.” We heard previously that the Giants were not prepared to go higher than the transition tag value, meaning there was like a $3MM AAV gap between the two sides.

While McKinney does not have a Pro Bowl on his resume, he is going into his age-25 season. That separated the Alabama alum from the lot of recently released safeties. Ranking 14th on PFR’s free agents list, McKinney played every snap for the Giants last season. McKinney intercepted three passes, forced a fumble and recorded a career-high 116 tackles in his contract year. He has run into some injury trouble, suffering a foot injury that delayed the start of his career in 2020 and then sustaining injuries in an ATV accident in 2022. These chunks of missed games did not deter the Packers, who made one of the biggest free agency commitments in team history.

Packers, S Xavier McKinney Agree To Deal

A number of teams released veteran safeties in recent days, creating a sense the position was in for a value dip. Xavier McKinney‘s market would run counter to that notion, as it took a top-five safety contract to win this sweepstakes.

The Packers will come through with the victory here, with ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reporting the team is signing McKinney to a four-year, $68MM contract. This surpasses what the Falcons gave Jessie Bates last year and checks in behind only Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick at the position in terms of AAV.

[RELATED: Packers To Sign Josh Jacobs]

Helping to bring the former second-round pick to Wisconsin: McKinney will receive $25MM in the first year of this deal, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The Giants were not prepared to go higher than the transition tag value, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo adds. The Packers, conversely, reached the AAV level near the franchise tag number for safeties.

The Giants considered transition-tagging McKinney; that would have cost the team $13.8MM. The Patriots went there to keep Kyle Dugger off the market, but the Giants were leery of losing McKinney in a scenario in which they did not receive a compensatory pick back. Instead, the Giants are saying goodbye to both McKinney and Saquon Barkley, who has committed to the Eagles.

While McKinney does not have a Pro Bowl on his resume, he is going into his age-25 season. That separated the Alabama alum from the lot of recently released safeties. Ranking 14th on PFR’s free agents list, McKinney played every snap for the Giants last season. McKinney intercepted three passes, forced a fumble and recorded a career-high 116 tackles in his contract year. He has run into some injury trouble, suffering a foot injury that delayed the start of his career in 2020 and then sustaining injuries in an ATV accident in 2022. These chunks of missed games did not deter the Packers, who are making one of the biggest free agency commitments in team history.

Green Bay let Darnell Savage walk in free agency; the ex-first-rounder joined the Jaguars. This left safety as the only place on the Packers’ defense without a former first-round pick in place. McKinney is close, being drafted 36th overall in 2020. The Giants will have some work to do here, having lost McKinney and Julian Love in consecutive offseasons. The Packers will add a potential impact player on their defensive back line.

Free Agency Notes: Queen, Seahawks, Packers, Panthers, Pats, Jackson, Bengals

The Ravens’ Roquan Smith payment always made it likely Patrick Queen would need to collect his money elsewhere. Now that Queen’s most recent defensive coordinator landed a coaching job, a logical fit has emerged. Indeed, many executives predicted (via the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora) Queen would wind up reunited with Mike Macdonald in Seattle. With the Seahawks likely to again part ways with Bobby Wagner, spots are open. Jordyn Brooks, who joined Queen as a 2020 first-round LB pick, is also on the cusp of free agency. Queen is coming off his best season — a Pro Bowl showing alongside Smith — and turned a corner once the Bears trade commenced last year.

Checking in eighth on PFR’s top 50 free agents list (before the Chris Jones and Baker Mayfield deals), Queen could be in line to rival what Tremaine Edmunds received ($18MM per year, $41.8MM fully guaranteed) last year and land a top-five ILB contract. Barely 12 hours from the legal tampering period, here is the latest from the free agent scene:

  • Not known for splashy signings, the Packers do look like they are ready to upgrade at one position on the market. Green Bay appears likely to look at the top safeties available, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler notes. Although several veteran safeties became street free agents due to recent cuts (Justin Simmons, Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs and Jordan Poyer among them), this saturated market does include two young guns that should be paid well soon. It would not shock to see the Pack pursue Xavier McKinney and Kamren Curl, Fowler adds. Both safeties are going into their age-25 seasons, which could separate them on a crowded market.
  • The Panthers released Bradley Bozeman today, and while they will look for a center, expect a guard pursuit as well. This year’s market is big on guards, and The Athletic’s Joe Person writes the Panthers want to upgrade at a guard spot this offseason. Carolina lost both its starting guards — Brady Christensen, Austin Corbett — to major injuries last season, representing one of the many issues on offense in Bryce Young‘s rookie year. The team does not consider Ikem Ekwonu an option. Despite the 2022 first-rounder playing guard at points in college, ESPN.com’s David Newton indicates the new coaching staff is keeping him at left tackle.
  • The Patriots are open to bringing back J.C. Jackson, according to Sportskeeda.com’s Tony Pauline. Jackson’s season ended early after the team placed the veteran cornerback on the reserve/NFI list. Should Jackson move past the mental health struggles that wrapped his first season back in New England, Pauline adds the team is open to another reunion despite last week’s release.
  • Seeing a revolving door form at right tackle (Bobby Hart, Riley Reiff, La’el Collins, Jonah Williams) over the past four years, the Bengals want that to stop. They may be ready to take a two-pronged approach by adding a veteran and a potential rookie heir apparent. “We would like to have somebody man the right tackle spot for a number of years, yes,” player personnel director Duke Tobin said (via The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr.). “We’d like it to be a young guy that can come in and do that or a veteran that might have the opportunity to rebuild his career, something. But yes, we would like that to be manned on multiple fronts. But we’re focused with having it manned well enough to provide us a chance to win next year. That’s the No. 1 thing.” Williams is a free agent, and given the market he might have — as a chance to move to left tackle may await — it is unlikely the 2019 first-round pick is back in Cincinnati.

FA Notes: Chiefs, Jones, Evans, Titans, Pats, Giants, Panthers, Falcons, Jags, Bucs, Rams

Buzz about the Chiefs re-signing Chris Jones surfaced last week, and while that trail has gone a bit cold, some optimism still exists the defending champions can keep their top defender off the market. Many around the league do not expect Jones to leave Kansas City, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler, but they do not anticipate a discount coming to pass. Jones stuck to his guns last year during a holdout that cost him more than $3MM between fines and a missed game check; that would make it rather shocking if he agreed to a team-friendly deal now.

The Chiefs reaching the $27-$28MM-per-year range should help move this close to the finish line, Fowler adds. That said, Jones could probably — given the cap spike — make a run at Aaron Donald‘s $31.7MM AAV standard and the position’s guarantee record (Quinnen Williams‘ $66MM) if he reaches free agency. The Chiefs were not willing to go near the Donald AAV neighborhood during talks last year, and it will surely take a monster offer to keep Jones from testing free agency now.

With the legal tampering period less than a week away, here is the latest free agency news:

  • The Chiefs were also among the teams interested in Mike Evans, according to The Athletic’s Dianna Russini, who details what would have been a big market for the veteran wide receiver. Evans opted to re-sign with the Bucs on a frontloaded deal that included $29MM fully guaranteed. The Falcons, Giants, Jaguars, Panthers, Patriots, Rams and Titans were preparing to see what it could take to lure Evans out of Tampa. High-profile FAs regularly use the Combine to gauge markets before the legal tampering period, and Evans evidently determined this Bucs deal compared favorably to what he could have collected on the market. But with Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman Jr. franchise-tagged, Evans would have been the top WR available. That distinction may now fall to Calvin Ridley.
  • Speaking of the Bucs, they are not ruling out a reunion with Shaquil Barrett at a reduced rate, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com notes. Tampa Bay cut Barrett last week, removing an $18MM-per-year contract from their payroll. Barrett stands to generate interest as a street free agent, but the former Super Bowl standout and NFL single-season sack leader is going into an age-32 season and coming off a 4.5-sack showing in 2023.
  • Darnell Mooney may be one of the players who could benefit from Evans, Pittman and Higgins being off the market. Despite the Bears target failing to eclipse 500 receiving yards in each of the past two years, he posted a 1,000-yard season in 2021 and has been in a low-volume passing offense. Teams figure to check in on the deep threat, and ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler suggests the Chiefs and Titans as potential players. The Chiefs’ receiver woes were well documented last season, and they recently cut Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Titans beat out the Chiefs for DeAndre Hopkins last year, but he is going into an age-32 season and signed for just one more year. Treylon Burks has also not shown much consistency yet.
  • Barring 11th-hour deals, this year’s safety market will feature Xavier McKinney and Kamren Curl. These two could do quite well without Antoine Winfield Jr. and Kyle Dugger in the mix, with ProFootballNetwork.com’s Adam Caplan noting Curl’s market could come in around $14MM per year. A line of demarcation may emerge after these NFC East starters, with Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline adding a lucrative second wave should not be expected to transpire at this position. This is how the 2023 market played out, with a gulf forming between Jessie Bates and the field. Though, multiple others (Juan Thornhill, Vonn Bell, Donovan Wilson) collected eight-figure guarantees.
  • The Rams have talked terms with Kevin Dotson‘s camp, per GM Les Snead. They expect both he and center Coleman Shelton to hit the market. Dotson delivered a big contract year and should be expected to become one of the top earners on a crowded guard market. The Rams want Shelton back as well.

Giants Will Not Use Transition Tag On S Xavier McKinney

The safety market lost two key pieces today, with the Buccaneers franchise-tagging Antoine Winfield Jr. and the Patriots transition-tagging Kyle Dugger. The Giants will pass on cuffing their high-priority DB.

Rumored to be a transition tag candidate, Xavier McKinney is now close to reaching free agency. The Giants will not place the lesser-used tag on McKinney, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo. This points to the Giants needing to compete with other teams on the open market next week.

It would have cost the Giants $13.8MM to use the transition tag on McKinney. As of now, the team holds just more than $38MM in cap space. The Giants are not giving up hope of reaching an agreement with the safety starter, per the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz. But time is running out.

[RELATED: Giants Will Not Tag Saquon Barkley]

This decision opens the door to the Giants losing both McKinney and Barkley in free agency. Barkley is viewed as the top running back available, and although that status does not mean nearly as much as it once did, several teams will undoubtedly be in on the two-time Pro Bowler. McKinney will be in line to sign for more money, especially with Winfield off the market and the Patriots having the chance to match any Dugger offer sheet.

As of late last week, McKinney talks were not believed to have started. The sides had tabled negotiations to 2024, but we are now less than a week from the legal tampering period. Beginning 11am CT on March 11, unsigned players can begin talking to other teams and reaching agreements. Since the tampering period’s debut, most top free agents agree to terms in that 48-hour window. Planning to pass on using tags this year, the Giants are in crunch time with their top free agents.

McKinney talks may be a bit complicated. The former second-round pick, despite missing chunks of two seasons due to injury, said in January he views himself as the NFL’s most complete safety. He does not have a Pro Bowl on his resume. It would seem unlikely, then, the Alabama product agrees to terms with the Giants before seeing what the market looks like.

McKinney set a new career high in tackles last season with 116, also reaching a personal best in pass deflections (11) and recording his second-best completion percentage allowed when in coverage (63.1%). McKinney, 25, missed 10 games as a rookie and then eight in 2022. But he will certainly be one of the top defensive free agents available.

The Giants have seen a few safeties leave in recent years. After the Landon Collins, Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan exits (the latter being cut), the team lost Julian Love despite making multiple offers. The Giants factored in an eventual McKinney payment into their Love calculus, but it is entirely possible both will be gone soon.

Giants Will Not Tag Saquon Barkley

Giants general manager Joe Schoen has left the door open to a second Saquon Barkley franchise tag being used this offseason. That will not be the case, however; New York will elect not to tag Barkley, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

This represents the expected outcome, as a free agent spell has long been on the horizon for Barkley. The former No. 2 pick has played out his rookie contract (including the fifth-year option) as well as a 2023 franchise tag during his six years in New York. For the first time, though, he will be able to test the market. A deal keeping him with the Giants after doing so remains in the cards, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson confirms.

A second Barkley tag would have checked in at a cost of $12.1MM. Using it would have prevented the franchise (or, perhaps more likely, transition) tag being applied to safety Xavier McKinney. Teams are free to use one tag in any given offseason, but not both. McKinney receiving the transition tag remains a “very strong possibility,” according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post.

That route has been floated as a potential path for New York to keep the latter, who profiles as a higher priority given his age and the lack of high-end safeties set to reach free agency. Paying greater attention to McKinney will allow New York to avoid seeing a safety starter depart in free agency as Julian Love did in 2023. Talks on a long-term McKinney agreement are ongoing.

Barkley is on track to headline the list of available running backs, one which is notably long. Fellow 2023 tag recipients Josh Jacobs and Tony Pollard are also likely to reach the market, as are Derrick Henry, Austin Ekeler, D’Andre Swift and J.K. Dobbins. Of those, ESPN’s Dan Graziano writes Barkley is the likeliest to reach the $10MM-per-year mark on a new contract. Doing so will be difficult, though, given the state of the RB market in general and the bulk of available options this offseason in particular. Barkley, like Jacobs and Pollard, did not help his case for a lucrative pact during the 2023 season.

The Giants came close to an agreement with Barkley last offseason, with guaranteed money coming up as the main sticking point. That will likely be the case again as he enters his age-27 season. New York’s offense will (at least temporarily) include a major hole at the RB spot if Barkley departs, but that is a risk the team is formally prepared to run.

Giants GM: Saquon Barkley Tag Still In Play

Before the $255.4MM salary cap became a reality, a report indicated the Giants were highly unlikely to use their franchise tag on Saquon Barkley a second time. A subsequent rumor about an Xavier McKinney transition tag surfaced, injecting more intrigue into this situation.

But the cap came in about $10MM north of the Giants’ expectations. Considering the cost of tagging Barkley a second time ($12.1MM), the cap spike could play a key role in extending this long-running relationship. Though, Barkley still has a good chance of hitting the market for the first time.

[RELATED: Examining Statuses Of 2023 Franchise-Tagged RBs]

Schoen said (via the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz) the Giants would like to have Barkley back in 2024 and added a tag is “not off the table,” though the third-year GM noted the goal would be to reach a deal with the Pro Bowl running back without using the tag. Teams regularly aim for this resolution, as it avoids a cap hold hitting a payroll before free agency.

Barkley may well be the top back available this offseason, should no tag commence, as neither the Raiders (Josh Jacobs) nor Cowboys (Tony Pollard) are planning second tag efforts at RB. Of course, the presences of Jacobs, Pollard, Austin Ekeler, Derrick Henry, D’Andre Swift and the Ravens’ Gus EdwardsJ.K. Dobbins pair stand to dilute the market and work against Barkley, who played on a $10.1MM tag last season. The Bengals may also send Joe Mixon to the market, further crowding a pool that features higher-profile talent compared to last year’s deep RB free agent crop.

As of now, it appears the influx of cap space will “not greatly affect” how the Giants proceed with Barkley, Schwartz notes. The Giants and Barkley have engaged in on-and-off negotiations since November 2022. The sides came close on a deal last July, but as the team increased its guarantee to approximately $22MM, it reduced the offer’s base salary south of $12MM. That prompted Barkley to pass and play on the tag. He can begin speaking to other teams for the first time when the legal tampering period begins March 11.

I wouldn’t say his value has changed, especially to the organization,’’ Schoen said. “He’s a captain; he’s a leader; he’s a hard worker. I think the world of Saquon, and I still think he can play. Unfortunately throughout the process starting back in November of 2022, we weren’t able to come to an agreement in terms of where we were for where a deal made sense. We’ll circle back again.

The Giants are expected to make the two-time Pro Bowler an offer soon, and it will be interesting to see if it rivals what they proposed in July. Additionally, Schwartz notes Roc Nation’s Kim Miale, Barkley’s former agent, is not part of these negotiations. Barkley had brought CAA’s Edward Berry into the picture just before the 2023 tag extension deadline; Berry is now the RB’s lead representative.

As for McKinney, Schoen indicated (via Schwartz) talks have not begun. The sides will begin talking Friday in Indianapolis, when the safety’s agent arrives. McKinney will be one of the top DBs available, and the cap spike will certainly help him. It would cost the Giants $13.82MM to use the transition tag on McKinney, who will not turn 25 until August. Only four players have been transition-tagged over the past 10 years; teams are not entitled to any compensation if they fail to match an offer sheet for a transition-tagged player.

Giants Considering Transition-Tagging S Xavier McKinney

Unlikely to pull the trigger on a second Saquon Barkley franchise tag, the Giants are considering a more creative solution in an effort to retain their other top free agent.

A belief within the organization points to another agreement with Xavier McKinney being a better investment compared to paying a seventh-year running back, according to the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz. As Barkley seems to be a diminishing priority within the Giants’ power structure compared to 2023, McKinney’s stock may be rising.

[RELATED: 2024 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates]

Although the team is unlikely to use the franchise tag to retain McKinney, Schwartz indicates the lesser-used transition tag is a possibility to prevent the safety from testing free agency. The safety transition tag is still expected to be costlier than a second Barkley tag, being projected (per OverTheCap) at $13.9MM. After losing Julian Love last year, the Giants look to be exploring all avenues regarding McKinney. The latter was a consideration in the Love talks.

Unlike the franchise tag, teams receive no compensation if they fail to match an offer sheet for a transition-tagged player. The non-exclusive franchise tag mandates two first-round picks come back in the event of an unmatched offer sheet. If a team does not match an offer for a transition-tagged player, it simply loses the player. Teams have until March 5 to apply tags. Only one tag is available to a team each offseason.

Only four teams have used the transition tag over the past decade. The Dolphins (Charles Clay, 2015), Bears (Kyle Fuller, 2018) and Cardinals (Kenyan Drake, 2020) have applied the tag. A fourth transition tag development did affect the Giants in 2016. The Dolphins did use the transition tag on Olivier Vernon, but they rescinded it. That led to Vernon signing a monster Giants pact during an offseason that featured pricey Big Blue upgrades on defense. Of this group, only Drake ended up playing that season on the tag. The Dolphins’ GM when they transition-tagged Clay, Dennis Hickey now resides in the Giants’ front office.

Barring an offer sheet, the Giants would carry that estimated $13.9MM number on their cap sheet this year. They would have until mid-July to negotiate an extension. McKinney being prioritized over Barkley would continue a trend of other Dave Gettleman-era investments being viewed as better assets; GM Joe Schoen has given Daniel Jones, Dexter Lawrence and Andrew Thomas lucrative second contracts. Barkley joins McKinney in being weeks away from free agency. Players can begin negotiating with other teams March 11.

Proclaiming he is the NFL’s most complete safety, McKinney does not sound like a player who would be willing to make a deal without testing the market. The sides had started negotiations on an extension, but talks were ultimately tabled to 2024. It is also unclear if much negotiating transpired last year. Time is running out for the Giants, who have made a habit of moving on from safety regulars in recent years. In addition to letting Love walk — after months of negotiations — the Giants allowed Jabrill Peppers to leave in 2022, the same offseason in which the Schoen regime cut Logan Ryan. The Giants also did not re-sign Landon Collins when he became a free agent in 2019; the ex-second-rounder scored a then-record-setting deal in free agency.

I want to be appreciated in every way for what I do and bring to the table. As a player and as a leader,” McKinney posted on X recently. “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.”

Last year, only one free agent safety — Jessie Bates — signed a deal worth more than $8MM per annum. The Giants obviously believe McKinney is in position to do better than last year’s second-tier safeties did. Grant Delpit also signed an extension in between these ranges, inking a $12MM-per-year accord with the Browns during the season. That only ties for 11th in terms of AAV at the position; McKinney will undoubtedly aim higher, which could set up another months-long Giants offseason negotiation.

Pro Football Focus graded McKinney, 24, as its No. 4 overall safety last season. The former second-round pick intercepted three passes, forced a fumble and tallied a career-high 116 tackles in his contract year. The Alabama alum did criticize the Giants’ coaching staff for a perceived lack of leadership last season, and he missed extensive time due to injuries in 2020 and ’22 — the latter due to an ATV accident.

McKinney may not be the safest bet, but he will be a high-level free agent soon. The Giants are planning last-ditch negotiations, but it may take a tag to ensure he stays in 2024.

Latest On Giants, S Xavier McKinney

The Giants have a number of key free agency decisions to make this offseason. While running back Saquon Barkley has understandably generated considerable attention, safety Xavier McKinney is also in need of a new contract.

The latter has helped his free agent stock considerably over the course of the 2023 season in particular. McKinney set a new career high in tackles this season with 116, also reaching a personal best in pass deflections (11) and recording his second-best completion percentage allowed when in coverage (63.1%). Overall, he has racked up 279 stops, 27 pass breakups and nine interceptions across his four-year career while serving as an every-down player in the Giants’ defense.

“I don’t think nobody’s on my level from the standpoint of being able to do every single thing on the back end,” McKinney said when asked about his financial future. “I think a lot of safeties have certain things that they’re good at and a lot of stuff they’re not good at. But with me, if you just look at my whole game and how I am, I’m able to do everything at a high level and be very productive doing it.

“I’m the most complete safety out there, and it’s about time for some respect to that, too. So, I definitely think I am the best safety in this league and I’ll continue to prove that” (h/t Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post).

Derwin James sits atop the position’s market with an average annual value of $19MM on his Chargers deal. The most lucrative contract in terms of AAV signed last offseason was that of Jessie Bates with the Falcons ($16MM). McKinney will be eying something in that range if he holds firm on his conviction that he deserves to move to the top of the safety pecking order. With the offseason having begun for New York, he and the Giants will be able to pick up contract talks after the parties agreed to put them on hold during the campaign.

When speaking publicly about McKinney’s situation, general manager Joe Schoen confirmed talks will take place on a deal. It will be interesting to see, however, how far the team will be willing to go if the Alabama alum sets an asking price which they are unable or unwilling to match. New York was in a similar situation last year when Julian Love turned a career year into a Seahawks pact in free agency. Love earned a Pro Bowl nod in his debut Seattle season, and McKinney would enter a new team with considerable expectations.

Changes after a 6-11 season will be coming to the Giants’ roster in the coming weeks and month, and it is already known the team’s defense will have a new coordinator in place for 2024. Deciding on McKinney’s future will be significant for New York’s financial outlook, and of course for the second phase of his career. Talks on a new contract will be worth watching closely.

Giants, Xavier McKinney Table Extension Talks To 2024; Don Martindale Addresses Safety’s Complaint

After hanging onto Xavier McKinney at the trade deadline, the Giants do not have plans to discuss an extension this season. Although Joe Schoen talked terms with Saquon Barkley and Julian Love midway through last season, McKinney will play out his rookie contract.

The fourth-year safety and the Giants mutually agreed to table talks until 2024, according to the New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy. While the notion of McKinney not being a 2023 extension candidate was previously framed as a Giants call, it appears the safety is interested in potentially exploring free agency.

A 2020 second-round pick, McKinney has been a regular starter for much of his New York career. While he played behind Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan early in his run, the Alabama product spent the 2021 and ’22 seasons as a regular. The Giants have bid farewell to a few safeties during Schoen’s run. They released Ryan and let Peppers walk in free agency last year, and after failed talks to re-sign Love, the team let the 2022 safety starter sign with the Seahawks. The team had expected Love to re-sign but had an eye on McKinney’s future by letting him go.

The Giants have cleared the decks at safety, potentially opening the door to McKinney staying on a second contract. Pro Football Focus grades McKinney’s as the NFL’s No. 30 overall safety through the season’s midpoint. He has stayed healthy thus far this year, though the team may be keen on seeing the 24-year-old defender remain available. Injuries in 2020 and 2022, the latter an ATV accident, kept McKinney off the field for extended stretches. While McKinney returned to action late last season, he missed eight games after being sidelined for 10 as a rookie. In 2021, McKinney played 16 games.

Suddenly, McKinney’s performance may not cover his entire situation. He made postgame comments aimed at the coaching staff. Amid this 2-7 Giants start, McKinney lashed out at a perceived lack of leadership.

Honestly, it sucks. But, I don’t know, man. I don’t really have many words. I think that from a leadership standpoint, I don’t think they’ve done a great job of letting the leaders lead, and listening to the leaders and the captains,” said McKinney, who is a Giants captain (via ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan).

It was one of those things where you have some of your leaders, captains from a defensive standpoint, trying to switch things up and just not really being heard.”

Brian Daboll brushed off the notion he is losing the locker room, an issue that accelerated the firings of Ben McAdoo and Joe Judge. Daboll said (via Dunleavy) he meets with Giants captains each Friday. When asked about McKinney’s comments Thursday, second-year DC Don Martindale said the statement did hurt him, according to the New York Post’s Mark Cannizzaro. Though, the veteran defensive coach said the parties have cleared up the matter.

It surprised me, because it’s the first time in my career that a player would make a statement like that,” Martindale said. “I think it was a case where the kid was just frustrated with losing. We spoke. We cleared it up. The example that he gave me of what he was talking about was an in-game adjustment. It really took a while for him to point out to me exactly what it was.

“What he explained to me was a coverage that we ran one time. He explained that to me afterward. I didn’t hear about it during the game. That’s another reason why it caught me by surprise. … I just told him that’s something that hurts the locker room, it hurts the defensive room when you say something like that.”

McKinney’s 53 tackles rank second on the Giants, behind Bobby Okereke‘s 80. Ranking last in both scoring and total offense, the Giants sit 21st in points allowed and 24th in total defense this season. DVOA slots Martindale’s unit 26th.