NY Giants’ sleeper free agent target could be former first-round pick

Defensive end Takkarist McKinley (Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)
Defensive end Takkarist McKinley (Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports) /

The NY Giants will need to be tactical in free agency, targeting players with high upside as the organization’s rebuild reaches its next phase with limited cap space to supplement the roster.

After the defense made significant strides under first-year coordinator Patrick Graham in 2020, continuing to bolster the pass-rush must be a top organizational priority both via free agency and the NFL Draft.

Recently, NFL.com projected one ideal free agent fit for each team, listing former Atlanta Falcons first-round pick Takkarist McKinley as a potential target for the Giants:

"McKinley’s time in Atlanta ended in ugly fashion, with the defender making public pleas for his freedom and bashing the franchise in the process. There was something in the former first-round pick, though, and it only takes returning to his film from his first three seasons to see it. As my colleague Gregg Rosenthal wrote in his top 101 free agents, McKinley showed legitimate juice and might just need the right fit to turn things around. Joe Judge’s Giants feel like that organization, and after the way McKinley’s time with the Falcons ended, he could be had for cheap."

It is a fair question whether McKinley would be a culture fit for Judge and the NY Giants, but he has the pedigree to vault to the top of the defense’s rotation of pass-rushers.

McKinley produced one sack and eight pressures in four games last season. A 25-year-old with plenty of baggage, but on and off the field, McKinley likely isn’t going to command top-dollar. If he would agree to an incentive-laden contract, East Rutherford might represent a chance to revive his career.

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Matt Lombardo is the site expert for GMenHQ, and writes Between The Hash Marks each Wednesday for FanSided. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattLombardoNFL.