Packers a Fit For Chargers All-Pro Defender in Trade?

Packers Trade Target Desmond King

Getty Defensive back Desmond King #20 of the Los Angeles Chargers warms up ahead of a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Dignity Health Sports Park on October 13, 2019 in Carson, California.

The Green Bay Packers are just two weeks away from being able to supplement their roster through the 2020 NFL draft, but could a trade with the Los Angeles Chargers help them cross off one of their remaining offseason needs ahead of time?

According to The Athletic’s Daniel Popper, there is a chance the Chargers could be looking to offload slot cornerback Desmond King to another team this offseason after signing veteran Chris Harris Jr. in free agency to presumably take over duties in the slot.

King, 25, was a first-team All-Pro cornerback during the 2018 season, but he took a step backward last year for the Chargers defense and now could be the odd man out in a secondary unit that is one of the sturdiest in the NFL. With King also heading into the final year of his rookie deal, the Chargers could see it as an opportunity to gauge his value on the trade market and deal him away.

If they do, the Packers might want to give them a call.

While the Packers’ needs at wide receiver and linebacker have taken a greater priority, they could still use another cornerback to bolster their depth for next season and beyond. Veteran Tramon Williams remains un-signed, which leaves Chandon Sullivan and Josh Jackson the Packers’ top choices to back up starters Jaire Alexander and Kevin King. There is also the matter of King’s looming free agency next offseason when a number of other high-profile Packers are due to hit the market.

The draft could be one route to securing the position — as could bringing back Williams — but perhaps there could be more immediate value in cutting a deal with the Chargers.

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Desmond King Trade Could Benefit Both Sides

If both sides were interested, the Chargers and Packers could each stand to gain from a trade that would send Desmond King to Green Bay.

Based on trade framework suggested by Sports Illustrated’s Jason B. Hirschhorn, a potential deal could look like this: The Packers trade down from the No. 30 overall pick in exchange for the Chargers’ No. 37 pick, King and a late Day 3 selection. The Chargers would gain draft capital as they look to complete a transformative offseason, and the Packers would add an established defender that addresses a need while staying in a position to add impact talent early in Round 2.

King has only missed one game in his first three NFL seasons and delivered his best numbers in 2018 when he made three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, and logged 10 passes deflections, four tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. He was also adept on special teams with an average of 13.8 yards on 23 punt returns and another touchdown to go with it.

But King’s abilities waned in 2019 both in coverage and as a return specialist. He allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 83.3 percent of their passes when targetting him, averaging 11.4 yards per completion, 9.5 yards per target and passer ratings of 124.8 — all career worsts for King.

King’s production as a punt returner also plummeted by nearly two-thirds with him averaging just 5.6 yards per return; though he did still manage to cross the goal line once on one of his returns.

Nevertheless, King fits the mold of the types of free agents Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has brought in this offseason. He’s an affordable piece with recent struggles who offers a short-term commitment and plenty of upside. As Hirschhorn noted, a team could trade for King as a “one-year rental” with his rookie contract due to expire after the 2020 season.

He fits the Packers’ low budget with a cap hit of just $2.2 million, too.

Of course, the Packers could still make moves that would neutralize King’s candidacy. Williams is still interested in returning for the Packers and is coming off a great year as the team’s slot cornerback, but no discussions of a new contract just yet could suggest the team is waiting to see what happens during the draft. Maybe a too-good-to-pass-up player falls to the Packers on draft day and neither King or Williams is necessary.

Either way, don’t expect Gutekunst to take the Packers into next season without at least one addition to the cornerback group.

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