The majority of the Green Bay Packers’ 2022 free agent class has either been re-signed or found a new home with another team, but one former starter who remains unsigned could end up being a bargain addition for another team.
Former Packers second-round pick Kevin King was recently mentioned in a Bleacher Report article that examined seven bargain-bin NFL free agents who are still available and could offer a boost for teams in 2022. The 27-year-old cornerback had more downs than ups throughout his five seasons in Green Bay and endured a notoriously bad game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2021 NFC Championship Game, but his experience and presumably low-cost contract could entice a defense with depth needs.
Here’s what Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay wrote about King in his July 16 article:
The cornerback stands at 6’3″, 200 pounds and possesses uncanny speed and athleticism for a player of his size. King’s frame allows him to take on assignments against some of the league’s biggest wideouts, and his quickness allows him to keep pace with burners.
While injuries have been a thorn in the 2017 second-round draft pick’s side—2019 was the only season in which he participated in more than 11 games—King can still be a decent depth option for any franchise that needs to reinforce its secondary without spending a fortune.
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King Could Offer New Team Valuable Depth
The Packers and King were destined to go their separate ways during the 2022 offseason. They had brought him back on a discount deal in 2021 to reinforce their cornerback room, but he was ruled inactive in six games and played on a career-low 48% of defensive snaps as other, better options stepped up in the rotation. Even at a veteran-minimum cost, Green Bay had little reason to re-invest for a second time.
That said, King does have good football on his record and could certainly be valuable depth for a team with cap constraints. King gets a negative reputation, in part, because some of his worst mistakes have come in his team’s biggest moments, such as both of the Packers’ NFC title games in 2020 and 2021, but he was looking like he could be a No. 1 corner in 2019 when he recorded a team-high five interceptions. If he can return to that level of play — or even get in the neighborhood — with his next team, he could become an important rotational piece.
The other big issue with King — his health — is also something that works in favor of whichever team is willing to gamble on him for 2022. King has never gone through a season without missing at least one game with 17 absences alone in his first two years with the Packers. While his availability issues are sure to put off some teams, it should also help drive down his price to near the veteran minimum, giving interested parties that chance to add a 42-game starter for next-to-nothing.
Should the Packers Consider Re-Signing King?
While King remains a decent veteran option for cornerback-needy teams looking to improve their depth, don’t expect the Packers to take another look at him in 2022 — and not just because of his disappointing pay over the past few seasons.
The Packers have taken measures throughout the 2022 offseason to ensure their cornerback room remains high quality for the upcoming year, extending All-Pro starter Jaire Alexander instead of letting him play out the year on his fifth-year option and re-signing Rasul Douglas to a three-year deal in free agency. They also have 2021 first-rounder Eric Stokes on a rising-star trajectory after stepping up in Alexander’s absence and finishing with a team-best nine PBUs. According to Pro Football Focus, Stokes also tied for the second-best completion percentage (51.0) among cornerbacks who played at least 80% of defensive snaps in 2021.
Even with a dynamic trio at the top of the cornerback chart, though, the Packers still have some questions to answer about their supporting cast at the position. Former Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Keisean Nixon was signed this offseason and will most likely make the roster given his value on special teams and background with new coordinator Rich Bisaccia, but the remaining depth spots are less defined.
The Packers also have Kabion Ento, Shemar Jean-Charles, Kiondre Thomas, Rico Gafford and undrafted rookie Raleigh Texada competing for a role in the rotation with Jean-Charles — a 2021 fifth-round pick — the only among them who played meaningful reps for Green Bay last season. A rotation of Alexander, Stokes, Douglas, Jean-Charles and Nixon might give the Packers everything they need, but a sixth man would make sense given the extra emphasis on special teams in 2022.