It sounds like McKinney will have to wait for his contract extension
The New York Giants have handed out several big contract extensions over the course of the 2023 off-season. However, it appears now that they’re set to allow safety Xavier McKinney to play out his rookie contract and address an extension in 2024.
Giants’ GM Joe Schoen revealed on WFAN’s “Evan and Tiki” show that the current plan is to “wait and get through the season.”
McKinney is only due to count $2.6 million against the Giants’ salary cap and the team is running low on cap space as the season nears.
“We don’t have a lot of cap space to do much more,” Schoen said. “I think our pockets are empty. But he’s a guy who is important to us, that we’d like to be here long term.”
McKinney is an undeniably important part of the Giants’ defense. His football IQ allowed him to be the defensive play-caller, while his versatility enabled many of Wink Martindale’s schemes. They were able to weather his loss last year thanks to Julian Love, but Love (who declined a contract extension over the 2022 bye week) is in Seattle now.
Schoen said, “X is a leader, he was a captain last year, he had the unfortunate incident, but he is a young player with upside.”
“We’ll have to see where we are,” he added. “We’ll see how it plays out through the season. If we can get something done down the road, he’s somebody we’d like to have here.”
There are a few complicating factors in place and the biggest is likely Leonard Williams’ $32.26 million cap hit. The Giants appear content to swallow that cap hit in 2023 rather than try to spread it out and impact their cap flexibility in 2024 and beyond, or insult Williams by approaching him with a pay cut. Likewise. The Giants also saw Love have to settle for a two-year, $12 million deal, and are perhaps comfortable with the prospect of negotiating with McKinney after the season with free agency looming.
Schoen has also shown a willingness to develop and rely on backup plans for positions. They could be comfortable with a future that involves Jason Pinnock and Dane Belton as their starting safeties. It’s also possible that Schoen may already have his eye on collegiate safeties for the 2024 NFL Draft. That’s a very long way away, but a player like Iowa’s Cooper DeJean could have caught the Giants’ attention while preparing for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Right now, the most important thing is for Xavier McKinney to stay healthy and continue to be a vital part of the Giants’ defense. They’re better when he’s on the field and playing well. They could really use something like his five-interception 2021 season after having just 6 total interceptions in 2022 (two of which belong to Julian Love).
The Giants have shown a willingness to work with and retain their core players. McKinney should be in blue for a good long time if he takes care of business.