The day after confirming their initial 53-man active roster, the Pittsburgh Steelers initiated adjustments by reportedly securing the services of Desmond King, a versatile former All-Pro cornerback.
The NFL Network brought forth news of the deal, although specific details regarding its duration and value remain pending.
Having entered his seventh NFL season, King recently parted ways with the Houston Texans, a decision made earlier this week. He had participated in all 17 games of the previous season, starting in 13 of them. Notably, the 28-year-old cornerback had previously appeared in 95 NFL games, commencing 53 of them while representing the Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans, and the Texans.
King achieved the status of a first-team AP All-Pro during his time with the Chargers in 2018, a season in which he contributed to four takeaways, including an interception return for a touchdown (one of three defensive touchdowns in his career). Additionally, he received second-team All-Pro recognition for his exceptional punt return capabilities during the same season. Notably, King retained the role of Houston’s primary punt returner throughout the last season, with a notable achievement of two career punt-return touchdowns.
Although King’s primary defensive contributions during his professional career have originated from the slot/nickel position, he also boasts extensive experience as an outside cornerback. In the year 2022, King initially operated as Houston’s primary inside cornerback for the first eight games but subsequently transitioned to the outside position for the remaining nine games.
Throughout the 2021 season, the majority of King’s appearances were in the capacity of an outside corner. However, for the initial four-plus seasons of his career, his role predominantly revolved around the nickel position.
Among the 75 cornerbacks who logged the most defensive snaps in the past NFL season, King received the 17th-best grade according to Pro Football Focus.
Interestingly, when the Steelers revealed their initial 53-man roster after the final cuts on Tuesday afternoon, they notably retained two punters, hinting at their intention to acquire external talent. Subsequently, Braden Mann was released on Wednesday, thereby opening up a roster spot that King subsequently occupied.
Notably, cornerback emerged as a position of relative thinness within the Steelers’ roster, with Levi Wallace, the right outside cornerback, being the sole certainty for a starting role. While the seasoned Patrick Peterson is expected to contribute, his potential as an every-down outside cornerback might be limited by his age of 33. Joey Porter Jr. displays great potential and promise, albeit as a rookie. Chandon Sullivan and Elijah Riley secured spots on the team, in part to fulfill the nickel/slot role, but neither has unequivocally positioned themselves as the definitive starter.
Having made the initial active roster in his fourth NFL season, James Pierre’s position and responsibilities could face uncertainty in the wake of King’s addition.