Why the Giants should re-sign Saquon Barkley and Xavier McKinney after NFL salary cap spike

Joe Schoen could keep both of his top free agents and still spend more
Denver Broncos v New York Giants
Denver Broncos v New York Giants / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

The NY Giants may have gone from counting each possible dollar for the offseason to going on a potential spending spree in March. It was recently announced that the NFL will be increasing the salary cap to $255.4 million for next season, which is a massive increase and jump from 2023.

Before the announced cap increase, the Giants were figured to have around $19 million in cap space. Because of that, the Giants would have had to restructure the contracts of Andrew Thomas, Dexter Lawrence and Bobby Okereke, plus release Mark Glowinski. With the cap increase, it now puts the Giants around $32.8 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap.

Throw in the contract restructuring plan, and the Giants could potentially have $68.9 million in cap space. A few other moves could put the Giants over the $70 million mark, which will give them options in free agency to add stud players.

But first, the Giants have two of their own players they need to take care of and with the salary cap increase, they could get something done with Saquon Barkley and Xavier McKinney. Both players have been expected to hit the free agent market and neither have been expected to get the franchise tag, although there’s some belief that McKinney could get the rarely used transition tag.

Keeping Saquon Barkley and Xavier McKinney in town should be a priority

McKinney could get $13.9 million with that tag as opposed to the $16.2 million it could cost the Giants to franchise tag him. However, with the additional cap space, the Giants could work out a long-term deal and configure McKinney’s cap number like they did with Daniel Jones’ deal a year ago when he signed his long-term deal. At 24 years old, McKinney is still entering the prime stages of his career and the Giants should be paying homegrown players as opposed to losing them to other teams.

As far as Barkley goes, the Giants have been at this before with him since the middle of the 2022 season. The Giants have been trying to get their best offensive player under contract and have yet to do so on a long-term deal. The Giants franchise tagged him a year ago for $10.1 million and a second tag would give him a $12 million deal, but the Giants would likely rather give him a long-term deal to also make the salary cap number less.

Barkley is now 27 years old and some think that’s when the drop off begins at the position, but that’s not always the case. Aside from that, Barkley is still clearly the team's best skill player. With an offense that has so many question marks, like at quarterback, the poor offensive line and a wide receivers room that doesn’t have much depth, re-signing Barkley is almost an imperative move to make for the Giants.

When Joe Schoen meets with Barkley’s camp at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine, he can do so knowing he has a lot more to work with. Schoen also knows what the Giants offense looked like without him on the field for three weeks. Spoiler: it wasn’t good. The Giants could barely establish any running game without Barkley. Once he returned, it changed the entire dynamic of the offense and teams started respecting the Giants running attack.

As free agency creeps closer, Schoen knows that the Giants need to keep their best players if they want to compete with the NFC powerhouses, which means re-signing both Barkley and McKinney are important to the Giants. With the cap increase, they are both moves that can also be considered more realistic now than they were before.