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The New York Giants have several big decision to make before the start of free agency and one of those will involve Xavier McKinney

The Giants' starting safety just played out the final year of his rookie contract, which means if the team can't reach a deal with McKinney over the next few weeks, then the 24-year-old is going to hit free agency. Before that happens though, it seems the Giants are possibly going to take an unconventional route in negotiations with McKinney. 

According to the New York Post, the Giants will consider using the transition tag on McKinney, which is something the team rarely uses. It's been almost 30 years since the last time the Giants utilized the transition tag. The last time it happened came all the way back in 1996 with Rodney Hampton. 

It's not just the Giants, though, as most NFL teams have avoided using the transition tag over the years. As a matter of fact, over the past eight seasons, only two players in the entire league have been hit with the transition tag: The Cardinals used it on Kenyan Drake in 2020 and the Bears used it on Kyle Fuller in 2018. 

For a team, the advantage of using the transition tag is that it costs less than a franchise tag. If the Giants were to hit McKinney with the franchise tag, they would have to pay him roughly $16.2 million in 2024. However, if they use the transition tag, then they'd only be on the hook for about $14 million (The salary number for the transition tag is determined by the average of the top 10 salaries over the last five years at a player's position). 

Of course, the downside of the transition tag is that there's a very real chance the team could lose the player who gets tagged. After being tagged, the player is allowed to negotiate with any team. If he reaches a deal, his old team will have several days to match the offer, but if they choose to let him walk, they won't receive any compensation in return. On the other hand, if a team loses a player who has been hit with the franchise tag, they get two first-round picks in return. 

McKinney recently wrote on social media that he wants to be appreciated, so it's unlikely he'll be taking any sort of discount to re-sign with the Giants. 

The safety has been in New York since 2020 when the Giants made him the 36th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Although his production was all over the place through his first three seasons, he had a career year in 2023. Not only did he record 116 tackles, but he also picked up five turnovers with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.