Things just keep getting worse for Kevin King.
One day after the Green Bay Packers cleared their No. 2 cornerback to play in his first game since Oct. 5, they were forced to add him to the Week 11 injury report on Saturday afternoon with a new Achilles injury and now have him listed as questionable to play against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday afternoon.
King has missed his past five starts with a quadriceps injury that sidelined him early in Week 4’s win over the Atlanta Falcons. While a setback in late October has prolonged his return to the field, the fourth-year cornerback was a full participant at practice in all three sessions this week and was finally taken off the injury report on Friday.
The Packers were forced to figure it out without either of their top cornerbacks on the field in Week 10 against Jacksonville, but the same problem shouldn’t be present against the Colts with Jaire Alexander — who missed last week with a concussion — already cleared to return to action this Sunday. If King does not play, Josh Jackson would presumably continue on his starting role for a sixth straight game.
The Packers also added punter JK Scott to the injury report due to a personal matter, forcing them to make an emergency signing for Sunday’s 3:25 p.m. CT kickoff.
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How Will Time Away Impact King’s Free Agency?
To say King has struggled to stay healthy during his NFL career would be an understatement.
King could miss his sixth straight game on Sunday and still potentially make 2020 the second-healthiest season of his four-year career, which is an obvious problem for a starter at any position. The longer he spends out of the lineup, the more the goodwill of his career 2019 season seems to fade when considering re-signing him beyond 2021.
Could it, however, create an opportunity for the Packers?
The Packers have gotten a capable version of King when he has been able to stay on the field, seeing him deliver a career-best five interceptions, 15 pass deflections and 66 tackles while playing in 15 of 16 regular-season games last year. Numbers like that give King justification for saying during the offseason the Packers have “two No. 1s” at cornerback for 2020 — and certainly raised his asking price for a second contract.
The league doesn’t always have a long memory, though, especially when it comes to players who miss five games (and counting) during a contract year. Depending on how he returns to the field, whenever it happens, King could be facing a much smaller market than initially expected and could wind up settling for less to stay in Green Bay.
The question is whether the latest run of injures has changed the way the Packers value King. With the 2021 salary cap set to be significantly lower, they would still have a tough time bringing him back at a reduced price with cuts already expected to pull the team even for next season. They would also have plenty of reason, financially and practically, to allow him to walk after he has missed 22 games over three and a half seasons.