Zyon Gilbert

NFL Reserve/Futures Deals: 1/22/23

Only one team signing futures deals today:

New York Giants

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/20/23

Standard gameday elevations for tomorrow’s playoff games:

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Xavier McKinney Activated From IR

DECEMBER 31: It only took two days into the 21-day practice window for the Giants to activate McKinney. McKinney should resume his starting role next to Love, sending Pinnock back to the bench after five weeks of substitute responsibilities. It’s unclear, though, whether or not McKinney will also resume his signal-calling duties on defense for New York, duties Love took over when McKinney was placed on IR.

To make room for McKinney on the active roster, the Giants waived wide receiver David Sills. Sills has started five games this year at wideout for New York but only contributed 11 catches for 106 yards in nine total games. In addition to those corresponding roster moves, the Giants promoted tight end Chris Myarick and cornerback Zyon Gilbert from the practice squad as standard gameday elevations for tomorrow’s matchup against the Colts.

DECEMBER 29: Xavier McKinney may make a late-season return for the Giants, after all. The young safety will return to practice Thursday, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post tweets.

The Giants have been without McKinney since their Week 9 bye, during which the starter suffered a broken hand in an ATV accident. McKinney is not expected to play against the Colts this week, but the Giants will get a look to see if he can contribute in Week 18 and/or in the playoffs. In designating McKinney to return from the reserve/NFI list, the Giants will have three weeks to activate him.

A 2020 second-round pick out of Alabama, McKinney has dealt with injuries during his first and third NFL seasons. He missed most of his rookie year because of a broken foot suffered that August. The ATV accident this year has sidelined him for the Giants’ past seven games. With the team being without top cornerback Adoree’ Jackson for much of that span, the Giants’ secondary has faced tall tasks weekly.

Jason Pinnock is expected to remain the starter alongside Julian Love against the Colts. If the Giants beat the Colts, they are assured of a playoff berth — which would be the franchise’s first in six years. Brian Daboll did not guarantee McKinney would miss this matchup, but it sounds like Week 18 is a better bet for a return to action. McKinney’s accident occurred in Mexico. He had pins removed from his fingers earlier this month but will wear a contraption (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Dan Duggan) upon returning.

McKinney has made 28 career starts, breaking through last season with a five-interception campaign. Pro Football Focus has not viewed his 2022 work on that level, slotting him 74th among safeties — behind Pinnock — but the former No. 36 overall pick remains a key part of a Giants secondary that already looked thin before this season’s run of injuries. The team rostered Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan alongside McKinney over the past two years; both are now elsewhere.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/10/22

Here are the minor moves around the league in advance of the Week 14 slate of games:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Giants S Xavier McKinney Expects To Return This Season

The Giants have been without safety Xavier McKinney for the last three games due to a broken hand that he suffered in an ATV accident during a bye-week vacation. As Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com reports, McKinney is expected to miss at least several more weeks, but he does plan to return this season.

New York is 7-4 and currently holds the sixth playoff spot in the NFC. However, the club has lost two in a row and takes on the division-rival Commanders — who presently hold the seventh and final postseason spot — two times within the next three weeks. As such, Big Blue’s postseason fortunes could be largely decided before McKinney gets back on the field.

McKinney, 23, was selected in the second round of the 2020 draft, and while a broken foot limited him to just six games in his rookie season, he emerged as a foundational player for the Giants in 2021, when he appeared in all 17 games (16 starts) and notched five interceptions. He also pulled down an excellent 75.4 grade from Pro Football Focus, which was especially bullish on his coverage abilities.

His PFF grade slipped to 56.3 over the first eight games of the current season, though his presence is still missed. A team captain, McKinney is also the defensive signal-caller for a unit that was ranked eighth in the league in scoring defense at the time of his injury and which is now ranked 14th in that regard.

The secondary as a whole has been hit hard by injury. In the Giants’ Thanksgiving Day loss to the Cowboys, they were without starters Adoree’ Jackson, Fabian Moreau, and McKinney, and while Moreau is active for the team today, Jackson is expected to miss several more weeks. As Dan Duggan of The Athletic tweets, New York is deploying Nick McCloud and Moreau on the boundaries today, while UDFA rookie Zyon Gilbert — who is making his pro debut — will work as the primary slot corner.

In McKinney’s stead, the Giants first turned to fourth-round rookie Dane Belton for two games before pivoting to Jason Pinnock, a 2021 fifth-round choice of the Jets whom Big Blue claimed off waivers during final cutdowns in August.

Giants Activate OLB Azeez Ojulari, S Tony Jefferson From IR

The Giants are in the midst of a bit of a midseason slump during a crucial four-game stretch of division games. They are activating pass rusher Azeez Ojulari and safety Tony Jefferson from injured reserve in hopes that they’ll be able to turn things around after losing three of their last four, according to Giants senior writer Michael Elsen.

New York will certainly be glad to see Ojulari return to the field to assist with an aspect of the game they’ve struggled with so far this season: sack production. Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has been able to produce some form of pass rush, much like he did during his time with the Ravens, by getting creative and sending blitzers from every part of the field. While this has resulted in 12 different players contributing to the team’s sack total, the Giants haven’t gotten consistent results out of any one player, besides defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. Lawrence leads the team with five sacks and is the only one of those 12 players with more than two.

Ojulari not only will get to the quarterback, as he showed he could during his rookie season when he led the team with eight sacks, but his presence should help the other defensive lineman provide more of a natural pass rush. With offensive linemen focused on Ojulari, Lawrence, Leonard Williams, and this year’s No. 5 overall pick, Kayvon Thibodeaux, should be freed up with some one-on-one matchups.

Jefferson is a depth piece in the Giants secondary. After two standard gameday elevations, Jefferson was signed to the team’s active roster for their London game against the Packers. Jefferson unfortunately suffered a foot injury in the game and was promptly placed on IR. With starting safety Xavier McKinney ruled out for the fourth-straight game, Jefferson provides a solid option alongside Dane Belton to start opposite the team’s other starting safety, Julian Love.

New York also made an exchange at the tight end position in today’s transactions. The Giants signed veteran tight end Nick Vannett to the active roster from the practice squad, waiving tight end Tanner Hudson to make room. With fourth-round rookie, and expected starter, Daniel Bellinger missing the last four games with an eye injury, the Giants have recently turned to recent addition Lawrence Cager who converted from wide receiver this past offseason. The team is expecting to finally get Bellinger back but will have Cager and Vannett available for backup.

Lastly, New York has promoted defensive tackle Vernon Butler and defensive back Zyon Gilbert as standard gameday elevations from the practice squad for tomorrow’s matchup with the Commanders. If Gilbert enters the game for Big Blue tomorrow, it would be the NFL debut for the undrafted rookie out of Florida Atlantic.