Should the Chargers extend Desmond King after 2020?
Desmond King was one of the biggest steals of the 2017 NFL Draft when the LA Chargers took him with the 151st pick. King is a versatile defensive back but specializes as a slot corner. According to Pro Football Focus, he was targeted 47 times allowing 41 receptions for 505 yards and three touchdowns, while allowing a passer rating of 132.7 in 2019.
In 2018 King gave up 59 receptions on 78 targets, for 499 yards and two touchdowns. This past season King had only two break-ups and no interceptions, whereas in 2018 he had six breakups and three interceptions. This definitely looks like a major regression, but the Chargers were also very unlucky this past season.
The Chargers were plagued by injuries last season. Losing two of their best defensive players, Adrian Phillips and Derwin James, for a majority of the season and a plethora of turnovers by the offense, did not give them a good chance to succeed. King did have a down year, but injuries and turnovers could be a reason for his struggles.
PFF also gave King an overall grade of 69.4 with a coverage grade of 67.8 in 2019, which is down from 90.5 and 91.1 in 2018. As mentioned earlier, King is a very versatile player and it showed as he graded at an 85.9 in pass rush, with three sacks, and a 79.8 grade against the run. With the loss of Adrian Phillips in free agency and the addition of Chris Harris Jr., King could get the chance to return back to form in a new position.
With Harris Jr. coming in to primarily be the team’s slot corner, King could provide value at other positions as well as a slot corner. While there are talks of him moving to safety, there is a chance that he takes over the Adrian Phillips role. Something that King has excelled at in his career is being an all-around player.
He has rushed the passer a total of 64 times throughout his short career, resulting in seven sacks, six hits on the quarterback and 24 total pressures. Maybe all King needs is a position change to get back to his 2018 form. With losing Phillips to the Patriots, this could be his opportunity to prove that he deserves an extension from the Chargers.
In his three years with the Bolts, King has been one of the few players who have been able to stay healthy as he only missed one game due to a team suspension. King has also spent time as the team’s return man and has been able to return two punts for touchdowns in his career.
King was also named an All-Pro Punt Returner in 2018. However, with the addition of Joe Reed and Darius Jennings, King’s focus might solely be on defense.
King will be 26 by the end of his rookie contract next season and the Chargers will have almost $100 million in cap space for the 2021 season. They should have enough cap space to be able to extend each of their own free agents if they choose to, which includes Joey Bosa, Keenan Allen, King and others.
Even with a down year in 2019, King has an overall grade of 90.4 over the past three seasons, which rank him second among defensive players in his draft class. It is too early to give up on someone who has been as versatile and as young as Desmond King is, but if the struggles continue, the Chargers could opt to look for a replacement in free agency or the draft.
Whether King gets an extension or not will come down to his performance in the 2020 season. All we need to see is an improvement and if so, fans should expect King to return to the Chargers for the 2021 season and beyond.
Casey Hayward and Chris Harris Jr. will both be 31 years old by the start of next season, so keeping Desmond King around would be a no-brainer if he can improve upon last year. As we’ve already seen, King has All-Pro potential as a defensive back and as a return man.
With an improved and healthy defense around him, fans should expect a bounce-back year from him, followed by a contract extension.