Sometimes a player flashes talent but can’t put it all together. Many factors can play into this, such as injuries, fit with a team, and dedication to the craft. In these cases, a player may need to change franchises to get a fresh start.
It was fair to think that Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King needed a reboot elsewhere to reignite his career. While his play wasn’t as awful as many people made it out to be, it wasn’t great, and when his contract expired after last season it appeared that both sides were going to move on. Yet the Packers extended an olive branch and brought King back. While it’s still the same franchise, Green Bay can provide the fresh start he needs.
For as much heat as King took after a disastrous showing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship, the Packers ended up moving on from Mike Pettine as their defensive coordinator — but not King as their CB2. Other factors played into King returning, such as the Packers being tied down by the salary cap and a lack of other options on the roster before they drafted Eric Stokes in the first round.
Still, Green Bay could’ve opted to move on, but they chose not to.
Joe Barry will be a new voice as this year’s defensive coordinator. He has a different scheme and perspective on how to run the show, which could be beneficial to King. While King struggled at times in the regular season and famously in the NFC Championship, he was often put in mind-boggling situations by Pettine.
For instance, take the Scotty Miller 40-yard touchdown. Why is King matched up one-on-one with no safety help against arguably the Bucs’ fastest wide receiver?
Green Bay appeared to run a form of Cover 1 Robber on that play when they should’ve been playing way more of a prevent style of defense, given the time and circumstance. Tom Brady delivered a perfect ball, King got burned, and the rest is history.
King was roasted endlessly for that play, but he was put in a position to fail. The hope is that Barry finds ways to put King and others in advantageous situations where they have opportunities to win their matchups.
The thought when King was drafted with the 33rd-overall pick in 2017 was that he would eventually evolve into the Packers’ No. 1 corner. Injuries prevented that from happening; King has had trouble staying on the field throughout his career.
King was a free agent the Packers brought back this offseason. It’s not as though he was on some backloaded contract that Green Bay was stuck with.
The expectations for King have tempered to hopes that he can stay healthy and provide adequate cornerback play. He’s no longer expected to become what Jaire Alexander is to their defense. Plus, Stokes should also alleviate some of that external pressure, because many will focus on the first-round pick out of Georgia. The selection could help kick things into gear for King.
By bringing back King, the Packers opted to go with a low-risk, high-upside investment. If King can stay healthy, he is a starting cornerback in this league. If he can’t stay healthy, Green Bay has him on a one-year, team-friendly deal. It’s a prove-it year for King, who has to show that he is a starter in the NFL.
Having a new defensive coordinator with a new scheme, plus adding a rookie first-round corner in the mix, should provide all the change he might need. King can potentially be rejuvenated while still wearing green and gold.