Mason Thompson | May 24th, 2020
Since 2017, the Packers have completely remade their secondary. This includes two first-round selections on Jaire Alexander in 2018 and Darnell Savage in 2019, as well as Josh Jackson in the second round in 2018. Let’s talk about another second-round selection though from 2017, and no, it’s not Josh Jones who the Packers cut before the 2019 season. Let’s talk about Kevin King and examine what his contract extension could amount to this upcoming offseason.
Early Career Ups-and-Downs
The Packers traded down with the Cleveland Browns at pick 29, picking up the 33rd and 108th selections, using those picks on King and Vince Biegel(an article for another day). King was a superstar at Washington, earning 164 tackles, 22 pass deflections, two fumble recoveries, and six interceptions during his time with the Huskies. He was the sixth cornerback taken in the class, behind Marshon Lattimore, Marlon Humphrey, Adoree’ Jackson, Gareon Conley, and Tre’Davious White. King is either the fourth or fifth best of the corners selected in the first 33 slots, only for sure being rated above Conley.
King missed 17 of the first 32 games in his career with a plethora of injuries. He played in nine games his rookie campaign in 2017 and six games in 2018 before only missing one game this past year. Last year, King set career highs in all major categories, including 66 tackles, 15 pass deflections, and five interceptions. In comparison, in 14 games, Darius Slay recorded 46 tackles, 13 pass deflections, and two interceptions and Kyle Fuller had 82 tackles, 12 pass deflections, and three interceptions in a full 16-game schedule.
Depth Behind King
The Packers, unfortunately, don’t have much depth behind King at the position. Alexander is the clear cut number one corner for Green Bay, He is becoming one of the best young cornerbacks in the game. Behind him though, the Packers have issues. Coming into his third-year, Jackson hasn’t lived up to the potential many thought he had as a second-round pick, not starting a single game last year. He was eventually surpassed on the depth chart by Chandon Sullivan, who the Packers signed before last year. Last year’s draft pick, Ka’Dar Hollman primarily played on special teams. Green Bay signed Stanford Samuels III as an intriguing cornerback option from Florida State to round out the cornerback room.
An interesting thing to watch is the development of Sullivan. The Packers let Tramon Williams walk and he still hasn’t found a new home. While bringing Williams back is an option, Green Bay has seemingly found a younger version of him in Sullivan. I was a huge fan of the waiver claim the Packers put in last May bringing him to Green Bay and he put on a show this last year. He played in all 16 games this year and split time playing cornerback and safety. Sullivan played 350 defensive snaps as well as almost 200 on special teams. Stat-wise, he was great last year, only allowing 11 completions on 31 passes thrown at him, a 34.3 passer rating when targeted, and a miss tackling percentage of just 3.2%.
What Could The Contract Be Worth?
Looking around the league, King is in for a big payday. If he manages to continue the success he had last year while staying healthy again. Unfortunately for Green Bay, James Bradberry and Trae Waynes were both paid mightily by the Giants and Bengals respectively. King is, in my opinion, better than Waynes and a tier below Bradberry. Bradberry got about 15 million a year while Waynes got an astronomical 14 million for a player of his caliber. If the Packers are looking for a bargain, it would have to be similar to what the Redskins paid for Kendall Fuller, which was about 10 million a year.
If I were Green Bay and King had a successful season without any injuries, I would pay him somewhere between that 8-12 million a year range. I would put several incentives in the contract for games played and individual performance. The Packers have to be careful of how they spend their money in the next few years though.
Green Bay’s Upcoming Free Agents
Along with King, Green Bay has two starters with expiring contracts on the offensive line with David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley, as well as the massive contract Kenny Clark is about to get. For skill players, both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have expiring contracts, as well as Allen Lazard and Sullivan. In 2022, the Packers also must pick up Alexander’s fifth-year option, as well as signing Davante Adams to another contract. Jackson’s contract is also up in 2023 as well, along with Equanimeous St Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, if either produces. Signing a punter isn’t sexy, but JK Scott has single-handedly turned games around for the Packers and his contract is up as well that year.
While King doesn’t get the love that many other number two cornerbacks around the league do, the Packers need to take into account how many other needs they have on the roster. The receiver position still hasn’t been addressed and unless one of Valdes-Scantling or St. Brown explodes onto the scene, it should be the first or second priority heading into next offseason. The right side of the offensive line needs work and linebacker has been a top need forever. King should be retained if he puts together another year like he did last year though.
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