The Pittsburgh Steelers submitted their 53-man roster at the NFL’s deadline at 4 pm ET on August 29. But that hardly meant the roster was finished.
Less than a day later, the Steelers are adding more depth to their secondary.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on August 30 that the Steelers are expected to sign defensive back Desmond King.
The 28-year-old, who the Houston Texans released on August 29, is entering his seventh season in the NFL. Last season, he recorded 89 combined tackles, including 10 tackles for loss, 8 pass defenses and 2 interceptions in 17 games for the Texans.
King made first-team All-Pro with the Los Angeles Chargers during the 2018 season.
Steelers Add Veteran Desmond King to Secondary
Steelers general manager Omar Khan was aggressive in adding veterans in free agency this past offseason. Even with the season less than two weeks away, he is still trying to shore up weaknesses.
King can help the Steelers in a lot of different ways. He began his career as a fifth-round pick for the Chargers in 2017. King made the team as a rookie and earned an All-Pro spot during his second season despite starting only eight games in 2018.
In three and a half seasons in Los Angeles, King posted 189 combined tackles, including 14 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 17 pass defenses and 4 interceptions in 53 games.
King started five games for the Titans, who won the AFC South that year, during the second half of 2020. The following offseason, he signed a one-year deal with the Texans.
After 2021, King signed a new two-year contract to stay in Houston. However, the Texans released him as part of their roster cuts on August 29.
In his six-year career, King has registered 33 pass defenses and 9 interceptions in 95 games. He also has recorded 426 combined tackles and 8.5 sacks.
King is five years removed from his All-Pro season, but he is still a strong cornerback in many facets according to Pro Football Focus. The PFF player grades ranked King the second-best Texans overall defender during the 2022 season.
PFF rewarded him a grade of 69.8 or better in coverage, pass rush and run defense last year.
Pittsburgh’s Secondary Depth Going Into 2023 Season
Khan wasted no time identifying King as a target following the league-wide roster cuts.
The Steelers already added cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Chandon Sullivan through free agency along with cornerback Joey Porter Jr. in the NFL draft this offseason. But NFL analysts were still calling for Khan to upgrade slot cornerback.
The slot is one of many spots the Steelers could deploy King. The 28-year-old played 334 snaps at slot cornerback during 2022. He spent a majority of his playing time early in the season in the slot.
But the Texans started playing him predominantly outside starting in Week 11. King finished with 505 snaps at outside cornerback last season.
King will likely move back to the slot in Pittsburgh. Peterson and Porter are projected to start on the outside. But if Porter struggles to begin his rookie season or should injuries occur, King’s versatility will allow the Steelers defense the opportunity to shift things when necessary.
The 28-year-old also has some experience at safety. He can help Pittsburgh’s coverage units on special teams as well.
Last season, King played 103 special teams snaps, which was his most since 2019. He’s played at least 700 defensive snaps and 100 special teams snaps in a season three times during his career.
King figures to be a great late preseason addition for the Steelers defense and special teams.