It does not make sense for the LA Chargers to trade Desmond King.
The Desmond King rumor mill keeps on churning with some NFL analyst speculation and Twitter rumblings. The Vikings were a team thought of to be a potential suitor by ESPN NFL insider Field Yates in the last week. Before the draft, there was plenty of smoke behind the idea of the LA Chargers trading King to move up the board to grab a player of their liking.
The draft has come and gone, and the Chargers took their quarterback of the future in Justin Herbert. In addition, the team added a third-round pick in the 2021 draft due to the departures of Melvin Gordon and Philip Rivers. Draft capital isn’t really a need for the Chargers in the current situation when they have an extra mid-round pick next year. That’s about what King could theoretically fetch them on the market.
Perhaps it makes sense to get value for King while he’s still under contract. He will be a free agent in 2021 with plenty of other Chargers’ players who will be a higher priority than him, like Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Keenan Allen, and Hunter Henry. Trade him now and there’s something the team can get in return than just letting him walk, right?
Why it does not make sense for the LA Chargers to trade Desmond King:
Depth would be my main response to that reasoning. Everyone remembers what happened to the Chargers’ secondary last year. Derwin James and Adrian Phillips went down within the first month. Trevor Williams, the expected starter at the second cornerback spot, was injured and then released. Michael Davis was injured towards the beginning of the year and was later suspended.
If everyone stays healthy and everything goes right, then sure, King isn’t a necessity. But, I’d rather keep a guy who can do a little bit of everything than deal him for some meager draft capital and perhaps another player at a position of need.
Riley Reiff is a potential acquisition that was mentioned by Yates. He’s a decent offensive tackle for sure, but I’m not sure he’s a dramatic improvement over what Trey Pipkins could project to be this year.
Also, who are some of the other candidates to play dimebacker or take King’s wildcard type role if he’s traded? Nasir Adderley certainly has the potential for that down the road, but he never stepped on the field in his rookie season and is now dealing with an offseason impacted by the coronavirus.
The LA Chargers don’t have a player they can slide into King’s role with a high degree of confidence, as of now.
More importantly, King’s skill set is still decently valuable for the Chargers. Depth is important as mentioned before, but there’s still plenty of dime and nickel sets King could be valuable in as a starter.
The slot role is maybe what gets more explicitly noticed as that’s where Chris Harris will replace King, but there are many packages that can put King at really all three levels of the defense. His coverage, run-stopping, and even pass-rushing ability might all be used in fairly even doses.
King is also coming off of a down year where he was poor in coverage. There isn’t a lot to be gained in most NFL trades, but especially not for a player coming off of a down year in pass coverage.
King allowed a passer rating of 133, about 50 points higher than his 2018 allowed passer rating. Whatever value that is available in a trade isn’t worth not seeing the potential bounce-back season in a contract year.
The depth, talent, and athleticism that King brings to the roster are more valuable at this stage than any pick or player that the Chargers could realistically get for him.
Injuries happen in the league, and the LA Chargers know that firsthand from their experience with the 2019 secondary. They don’t have many experienced options that have the skills to reach King’s level of production in 2020 in replacing him. Even if the Chargers do lose King after the year, it makes sense to keep him for 2020 given the current makeup of the team.