Kevin King has been a talented player for the Green Bay Packers. He’s also struggled to stay healthy. That leads many to wonder what his future looks like
Kevin King came into this season hoping to build off of what was the most promising season of his young career.
The Green Bay Packers stood to benefit from that as well. They were confident that they’ve found a star in his counterpart at the position in Jaire Alexander. Alexander has lived up to his end of the billing and developed into an All-Pro candidate.
King did not lack for confidence during training camp. Alexander and King both proclaimed that the Packers felt they had two number one corners.
Cornerback has become a position that is increasingly more difficult to play with rules that continue to emphasize offense.
It’s a claim that probably didn’t have a ton of merit, but you still like the confidence.
King was coming into the year off the best season of his young career. He led the team in interceptions with five. He notched a sack. Perhaps most importantly, he started 15 of 16 games. That’s something that has been the bugaboo of King’s young career.
He struggled with shoulder injuries each of his first two seasons. He landed on injured reserve his rookie season because of it.
Last week King missed his fifth consecutive game with a quad injury. That led to perhaps the most telling stat of his career.
Kevin King has now played in 34 games with the Packers and missed 23, meaning he's played in just 59.6% of games.
— Rob Reischel (@robreischel) November 15, 2020
He’s played in less than 60 percent of games during his rookie contract in Green Bay.
Part of King’s career is always going to be that he was not TJ Watt. There really isn’t much of an argument that Watt would have been a better selection. That may not even be an argument in hindsight.
King could have made good on that selection simply by staying healthy and building on his third season that saw him turn into some of the player the Packers envisioned when they selected him 33rd overall in his draft class.
King was slated to return this weekend when a report surfaced that he was being added to the injury report with an Achilles injury. King is now questionable for tomorrow’s game against Indianapolis.
The same questions begin to surface.
The same arguments. The same discussion points.
The question now looks to King’s future. What does that look like in Green Bay and around the NFL?
King’s health concerns are not lost by the rest of the NFL. They’re aware. They’re also aware of his talent.
So are the Packers. They’ve spoken highly of him whenever they’ve been asked.
The popular discussion point whenever a player struggles with injuries or doesn’t necessarily play up to the standards of a big contract is that he should sign a one-year prove-it contract.
I like to call those kick the can contracts because it’s essentially kicking the can down the road for both the player and the team.
The Packers do not have any long term answers at cornerback aside from Alexander. It’s easy to envision how King has some value to them as a stop-gap type of option. The issue of course is that they need to be actively searching for a long-term answer.
With King’s injury history, can they afford the type of patience that might require? Are they hurting themselves by not giving reps to someone like Josh Jackson, Ka’Dar Hollmon, or a high rookie selection to try and find the long term answer opposite of Alexander?
Add in the shrinking salary cap, what number can the two sides come to that makes sense for both of them?
King has been an average to slightly above average player when he has played, but what is that worth when the Packers have to pinch pennies? Is that number around $2-3 million?
Can King get more than that on the open market? There’s a team like Indianapolis with cap space to use and he fits the profile they’ve typically liked with their cornerbacks. They certainly could gamble a bit more on someone like King to be a long term answer for them.
As long as TJ Watt is in the NFL, the fan base will bemoan that he was not selected when Kevin King was. The unfortunate part of this situation is the Packers desperately needed cornerbacks when King was selected. King simply has struggled to stay on the field.
Because of that, it’s becoming more difficult to see King back in Green Bay – at any price – beyond 2020.