The LA Chargers should not re-sign Desmond King at this point in time.
Joey Bosa’s big contract extension has brought more attention to who the LA Chargers might pay next. Keenan Allen is reportedly in talks with the team, but he’s not the only impending free agent either. The LA Chargers have 30 players that could be eligible for free agency next season if not extended in advance. Out of that field, I’d say about 10 of them play key roles on the team.
In what will be a continuing series, I want to look at those players that the Chargers should and shouldn’t re-sign next year. Keep in mind, this is just my view as of now. A lot can change in the 2020 season, as several players’ contracts depend on it.
First up, Desmond King. The former Iowa Hawkeye had big seasons in 2017 and 2018 for the team, but regressed a little bit last year.
The Chargers saw fit to replace King with Chris Harris in the slot. Now, King’s role is up in the air in terms of what he’ll actually do on defense. His next contract will depend heavily on his 2020 season, but as of now, it’s difficult to make a case to re-sign him for a few reasons.
1. Desmond King’s decline in performance for the LA Chargers in 2019
King’s performance in 2019 was genuinely very concerning. Sure, his PFF defensive grade was fine. Despite it being a passable grade, it was just about 20 points lower than his 2018 score. His coverage grade also decreased more than 20 points.
In 2017 and 2018, King allowed a reception percentage of 77%. That number jumped 10 points to 87% in the 2019 season. Quarterbacks also routinely picked on King throughout the season. In that same period of the first two years of his career, King allowed a 91.6 passer rating when he was targeted. That ballooned 30+ points in 2019 to a 123.8 passer rating.
Many will also remember that in the 2018 season, King showed himself to be an awesome returner. Many stats bear out that he was top five in the league at various points on special teams.
It wasn’t just the Steelers game either, as King was having weeks where he’d consistently rip off 30+ yard punt returns. Unfortunately for King last year, he couldn’t replicate that success and had a handful of muffed punts. That led to the Chargers bringing in Joe Reed and Darius Jennings.
King was also held out by the coaching staff late in the season vs. Minnesota for non-injury reasons.
To some extent, I understand that it wasn’t an optimal year, as the LA Chargers had several key injuries in the secondary. It’s still hard to ignore King having a much steeper drop off than any other member of the secondary. A lot could change if King has a good 2020 and rebounds from a poor year. As of now though, that remains to be seen.