Xavier McKinney sends subtle message to NY Giants before free agency

McKinney is ready to be paid like one of the top safeties in the NFL

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The NY Giants have ample cap space to work with this offseason. That's good news because they have a whopping 29 players set to hit free agency. They could add more funds by restructuring contracts and making some cap casualties, but they currently have enough to re-sign their most important free agents.

Most fans in East Rutherford are hoping general manager Joe Schoen reserves money specifically for Saquon Barkley and Xavier McKinney. That's no slight against other FAs like Adoree' Jackson and A'Shawn Robinson, but Barkley and McKinney are not only foundational veterans, but they're homegrown.

It's important for a team that experienced significant turnover to its coaching staff to retain homegrown pieces. While Barkley has made it clear he wants to remain with the Giants, McKinney is keeping more of an open mind as he approaches the first free agency of his career.

With one month to go before the legal tampering period, McKinney sent a subtle message to the Giants by replying to a tweet from Pro Football Focus.

Giants' Xavier McKinney regards himself as a top-five safety before free agency

The fact McKinney regards himself as a top-five safety foreshadows the kind of contract he'll command. His versatility makes him an invaluable chess piece in today's NFL. He's capable of playing free safety at a high level and squaring up against tight ends in coverage, while packing a punch against the run in the box.

A former second-round pick in 2020, McKinney put together a banner season in 2023. His 92.1 coverage grade ranked first amongst safeties, according to PFF. His 53.0 passer rating allowed ranked fifth and he missed just three tackles all year. He added 11 passes defended and three interceptions to boot.

The only problem is the Giants never engaged in extension talks with McKinney. They could franchise tag him for $16.3 million, but that's a steep price to pay considering they could likely lock him up for around $14 million per year.

The hometown discount argument (likely) doesn't apply to the 24-year-old safety, either, after he switched representation to agent David Mulugheta, who's negotiated some of the biggest safety contracts in the league today.

McKinney's tweet certainly suggests he'll want top-five safety money. If that's true, he'll set a baseline of $16 million during negotiations. We obviously don't know that for certain, but it's worth pondering if Schoen would be willing to meet that price. Let's hope the Giants already reached out to McKinney about re-upping his contract. If not, this could be a tricky negotiation process.