King To Return For Another Season

The Green Bay Packers agreed to terms Tuesday with Kevin King on a one-year contract worth $6 million. Many fans won’t like this move – the debacle against Tampa Bay is still way too fresh – but it does make sense. While the 26-year-old may not be elite, he’s been at least an average starter for the majority of the past four seasons. And while the price seems a bit high, just take a look at what other cornerbacks signed for in the past seven days.

Former Cowboy Chidobe Awuzie, who’s never been as good as King, received three years and $21.75 million from Cincinnati. And would spending $10 million per on Ronald Darby (Denver), $8.5 million on 31-year-old Patrick Peterson (Minnesota), or $6.5 million on 30-year old Xavier Rhodes (Indianapolis) be any sounder of an investment?

Look, I admit to not being a big fan of this player. I questioned his ability to cover quick receivers prior to the 2017 draft and thought he was a reach at the top of the second round. That said, he usually does a pretty decent job of defending the deep ball, and he’s not afraid to tackle in the run game. In today’s NFL, that’s enough to get a corner paid.

If King can stay healthy next season, and that’s a huge if considering he’s missed 25 of 64 games in his career, he’ll provide an experienced option opposite All-Pro Jaire Alexander while the Packers develop the young cornerback they’re almost certain to select early in next month’s draft. And if that rookie proves to be better than King, so be it. Every team has a few overpaid veterans on the bench. Heck, just twelve months ago, Gutekunst handed similar money to inside linebacker Christian Kirksey, and he was replaced in December by undrafted free agent Krys Barnes.

My biggest concern about King isn’t what happened versus the Bucs in January; I think a back injury suffered in practice a few days earlier was a factor in his dismal performance. I’m more concerned over the lack of speed he showed at times last season. He sure didn’t look like the guy who ran 4.43 at the Combine. And while speed isn’t everything, it’s obviously important, especially to a tall corner whose length creates issues transitioning cleanly in coverage.

With King now in the fold, the Packers will return 21 of the 22 players who started the majority of games in 2020. Only All-Pro center Corey Linsley won’t be back, although left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) probably won’t be ready when the season opens in early September. Keeping yet another starter from a team that went 13-3 can’t be considered a bad thing – even to fans who would’ve gladly bought King a plane ticket out of town a few months ago.

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Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.
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