The Giants had big plans and expectations for Xavier McKinney, which is why they drafted the safety near the top of the second round. They expected the rookie to start opposite Jabrill Peppers and become the play-maker their secondary sorely needs.
That’s out, at least for now, with the news that the 22-year-old McKinney will miss at least a few months after undergoing surgery on Wednesday to repair a fractured left foot. The Giants can replace him with the improving Julian Love, but they’ll still miss all the things they were expecting McKinney to do.
And that hurts, since the Giants’ secondary was already thin with the losses of cornerbacks DeAndre Baker, who was arrested for armed robbery, and Sam Beal, who chose to opt out of the season. Now it’s dangerously, and maybe devastatingly, thinner.
So what can the Giants do about it? Well, they couldn’t do much about their cornerback problem, but their options at safety might be a little better. Here’s a look at a few of the players available who could help patch up the hole left by McKinney. The options aren’t great, but if they’re interested at all, they better move quickly because the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, and possibly even the Dallas Cowboys are in the market for safety help, too:
Remember him? The Giants, like the Jets, looked at the veteran cornerback earlier, but it turns out the 29-year-old sees himself now as more of a safety. The Giants didn’t really need a safety before, but obviously they do now.
Ryan played for the Patriots from 2013-16, so Giants head coach Joe Judge knows what he can do, and he’s always been considered a high-character player, which will help. They certainly could use a veteran voice in a secondary that is very young.
The issue likely will be price. At first, Ryan was looking for $10 million per year and there’s no indication the Giants will be willing to pay a price like that. Since he’s still unemployed, maybe his price has dropped lower. If it’s dropped low enough, it makes sense for the Giants to bring him in.
He’s certainly the big name out there, after his stunning release from the Ravens. But there are a lot of issues with the veteran that make him seem like a terrible fit.
He’s 31 and seems to be on the downside of his career. Still good, of course, but not nearly what he once was.
And then there’s the baggage. He’s available because he punched one of his Ravens teammates during a training camp practice over a dispute about a broken play. Even more damning, the team leaders on the Ravens reportedly told the coaches they were fine with letting him go. The Giants are trying to build a new culture. Do they really want to bring in a high-profile guy with issues like that?
He was a solid safety for the Ravens for two years before he tore his ACL last October. Health was seemingly the only thing keeping him from getting another job, but according to reports, he’s recently been cleared.
A reunion with the Ravens makes more sense after they cut Thomas. If not, it’s certainly worth it to the Giants to bring him in to at least check out his knee.
The 28-year-old has had an injury-plagued career, though he did manage 27 starts over the past two seasons. He’s better as a run defender than he is against the pass, but he also was one of the Colts’ team captains last season.
The Giants could use that kind of leadership in their young secondary, and his skill set might make him better in three-safety sets anyway.
He’s 32, which is the first red flag. He’s also had two shoulder surgeries in the last two years. That doesn’t fit at all with a rebuilding defense, but they are desperate for help and leadership. Also, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham knows him from when they were together in Miami last year.
He did not have a good season with the Carolina Panthers in 2019, which led to his release in the offseason. He’s also been one of the leaders of the NFL’s protests for social justice, which probably has kept some teams from pursuing him, too.
Assuming the Giants can get past that part of Reid’s story (and they should), he’s still only 28 and worth a one-year deal to come in and be part of their three-safety rotation.