Packers' Top Free Agent Target Now Available

Packers Eye Major Upgrade with Safety Xavier McKinney.

by Nouman Rasool
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Packers' Top Free Agent Target Now Available
© Mike Lawrence/Getty Images

In a strategic move to bolster their defense, the Green Bay Packers, under the guidance of new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley, are shifting towards a defensive scheme that emphasizes the use of a single-high safety. This tactical adjustment necessitates the acquisition of a versatile and dynamic safety to anchor the backend of their defense.

The search for such a player led the Packers to set their sights on a highly coveted free agent, now officially available on the market. Xavier McKinney, formerly of the New York Giants, has emerged as the ideal candidate to fill this critical role for the Packers.

McKinney's entry into free agency was confirmed by Mike Garafolo, following the Giants' decision to forego the franchise tag. This development places McKinney, who at 24, embodies the blend of youth, talent, and performance the Packers are keen on adding to their roster.

Notably, McKinney shares representation with Packers quarterback Jordan Love, adding an intriguing layer to the potential acquisition.

McKinney's Impressive Profile

McKinney's credentials are impressive and align perfectly with what the Packers require in their pursuit of safety excellence.

Drafted by the Giants in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, McKinney has since distinguished himself over 49 games, accumulating significant stats that highlight his versatility and impact on the field. In the 2023 season, he showcased remarkable durability and skill, participating in every defensive snap and achieving notable statistical milestones, including 116 tackles, 11 passes defensed, and three interceptions, among others.

His performance has not only been prolific but also efficient, with Pro Football Focus ranking him fourth among safeties in 2023 based on overall grade. McKinney's proficiency in tackling and coverage has been particularly noteworthy, underscoring his fit for a Packers defense eager to enhance its secondary.

However, acquiring a player of McKinney's caliber will not be without its challenges, primarily due to the financial implications. The safety market is notoriously competitive, and with McKinney's profile, the Packers must navigate the intricacies of salary cap management to secure his services.

The Packers' safety unit, having experimented with various configurations in the 2023 season, is in a phase of reconstruction. The departure of key players from last season's lineup underscores the urgency to revamp this segment of the defense through strategic acquisitions in the draft and free agency.

ESPN's Matt Bowen regards McKinney as an exemplary fit for the Packers, capable of fulfilling the dual role required by Hafley's defensive scheme. As the Packers explore options to create additional cap space, the prospect of adding McKinney to their roster represents a significant potential upgrade, aligning with their strategic defensive objectives for the upcoming season.

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