Steelers To Sign CB Desmond King

Desmond King did not make the Texans’ 53-man roster, but the veteran cornerback will have another opportunity soon. The Steelers are expected to add King, Ian Rapoport of tweets. The sides have agreed on a one-year deal, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

The Steelers will be a fourth team for King. The former Chargers UDFA and All-Pro has spent his career in Los Angeles, Tennessee and Houston. King has spent much of his career in the slot. The Steelers added veteran slot defender Chandon Sullivan this offseason, but it looks like they will bring in more help.

This would require a roster move, as the Steelers set their 53-man squad Tuesday. But teams will be making a host of veteran additions today, as players are moved to IR. In order for players to be eligible for in-season activations from IR, teams must carry them through to their 53-man roster and then shift them to the injured list.

While teams often use post-cutdown-day IR moves to re-sign vested veterans they recently cut, veterans released by other clubs factor into equations as well. King, 28, is a six-year vet who started 25 games for the Texans from 2021-22. Pro Football Focus viewed King’s 2022 season fondly, slotting him 20th overall among corners. King’s value as a tackler helped produce that placement; the Detroit native finished with a career-high (by a substantial margin) 10 tackles for loss last year.

The Steelers obviously go into the season with bigger goals compared to the Texans, who have produced four-, four- and three-win seasons in the 2020s. But Houston is transitioning to a new defensive scheme under DeMeco Ryans. The rebuilding AFC South team is planning to use the recently re-signed Tavierre Thomas in the slot, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets, with Grayland Arnold in that mix as well.

King, who was attached to a two-year deal worth $7MM in Houston, played more than 900 defensive snaps in each of the past two seasons. The ex-Charger UDFA has also contributed regularly as a punt returner. He earned first-team All-Pro honors as both a slot corner and punt returner in 2018. Although King has not operated in a return capacity in each of his NFL seasons, he has done so frequently — including over the past two years with the Texans. King returned punts for touchdowns in 2018 and ’19.

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