With cornerback being one of the Green Bay Packers’ most glaring needs, the team signed a free agent corner to play across from Jaire Alexander on Tuesday. That cornerback? One Packers fans know well: Kevin King.
King was reportedly signed by the team to a one-year $6m deal (though the real number is likely smaller). This move was, unsurprisingly, met with polarizing reviews; King has been a polarizing player ever since his name was called in 2017.
Ever since the Packers traded down in the first round of the 2017 draft, passing on future star T.J. Watt in the process, King’s career has been under a microscope. Since then his saga has been one of inconsistency. King is a player of extreme peaks and valleys, and being oft-injured hasn’t helped.
When healthy, King has been one of the better ballhawks on the defense and has had some truly game-tilting moments. But he struggles to stay on the field and doing tackles. Put it all together and King can be described as an okay/slightly below average CB2 overall.
Most of the current ire towards King comes from his abysmal NFCCG this past winter. King was bullied by Tom Brady, gave up a truly game-altering TD at the end of the first half, and had a penalty that cost the Packers one more chance to score before the game’s end. This performance was a major factor in his defensive coordinator not returning, and it seemed a given King would be gone as well. Green Bay had different plans.
While the new deal itself was surprising and drew a lot of skub, it does make sense for the Packers in many ways.
The Packers have a new defensive scheme. Joe Barry’s scheme might be a better fit for King’s skill set, and one of Barry’s goals is to teach the defense how to actually, y’know, tackle. If King can improve in that regard, that alone can make him a much better player.
The price is right as well. The $6m deal is likely laden with incentives, and many predict the actual cap number to be closer to $3-4m overall. That’s a low cost for a veteran corner familiar with the locker room, and the Packers aren’t committed beyond 2021. By no means does keeping King around for another year financially handicap them or prevent them from adding new cornerbacks.
Speaking of new corners, this deal won’t prevent the Packers from drafting a replacement. Corner is still arguably the biggest need for the Packers long-term. Now, a rookie corner won’t have to be thrown into the fire immediately. Regardless of King’s place on the roster, it’s still a safe bet the Packers exit the 2021 draft with at least one cornerback.
Personally, I wouldn’t have made this move. I would prefer to let King walk and roll the dice and see what Josh Jackson or a free agent veteran can bring to the defense and draft a few corners. But there’s a reason I’m a writer that has to cheat in Madden and not a member of the Packers front office.
Ultimately, the Packers acquired a cheap, experienced veteran that is well-liked and respected in the locker room. The Packers are banking on keeping as much of the 2020 team intact as possible. For better or worse, all we can do is see how things play out.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.