Xavier McKinney
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants somehow lost the bye week.

Starting safety and defensive captain Xavier McKinney, while visiting Cabo, suffered a hand injury during an ATV accident. The Giants thus placed him on the reserve/non-football injury list this week and he’ll miss at least four games.

You feel for the kid in some regards, sure. But there is still a major lesson to be learned for McKinney, one that former Giants running back Tiki Barber knows all about.

“As I think about this Giants team and how this bye week played out, and really the mindset of some of these young players who are unaware of the importance of the job. The importance of 17 opportunities that you get to do something like play in the National Football League…every game matters, and therefore, every week matters, including the bye week,” the WFAN radio host said during Wednesday’s “Tiki and Tierney” show

“I don’t want to kill Xavier McKinney. I don’t. Because I know he wasn’t trying to be reckless. I know he wasn’t trying to do something that would undercut the momentum this Giants team has had for the first eight weeks of the season. So I can’t kill him. But, there is a professionalism that got lost in his mind. And you have to hold him accountable for it.”

Barber is absolutely right — it’s not like McKinney was trying to ruin the rest of his season or cause a major blow to a strong, up-and-coming defense. But there still is a level of responsibility he must cherish.

McKinney is in a position that so very few have held and his team could be gunning for a playoff spot — he cannot take any of it for granted.

McKinney’s future. There’s also a long-term problem here, however. Because now a potential contract extension after the season could be in question.

The former second-round draft pick was likely playing for a new deal as he doesn’t have a fifth-year option, so general manager Joe Schoen could’ve locked him in long-term in the offseason.

I’m not saying McKinney won’t ever get a new deal from the Giants. But this incident could diminish his leverage in contract talks. Whether the deal comes in 2023 or 2024, the annual value might not be what McKinney and his camp initially desired.

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Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.