The Steelers tried to trade Desmond King before the deadline; no deal transpired. This led to Pittsburgh cutting its seldom-used cornerback last month. While no trade taker emerged, King has landed another opportunity.
Dealing with cornerback injuries at many points this season, the Texans will bring back the veteran slot defender. King is back in Houston on a practice squad deal. This agreement comes nearly three months after the Texans released King before setting their initial 53-man roster.
King played in three Steelers games this season, but his contributions came almost entirely on special teams. Used as a kick returner, King saw all of one defensive snap during his Pittsburgh tenure. The Steelers signed King shortly after his Texans release, but the partnership did not prove beneficial. Now, King will return to a team that used him regularly in recent years.
Houston has seen Derek Stingley Jr., Tavierre Thomas, Grayland Arnold and Jimmie Ward miss time this season. Ward, who has played some slot corner despite DeMeco Ryans recruiting him from San Francisco by indicating he would return to a full-time safety role, missed the Texans’ Week 11 matchup. Arnold, who has spent time in the slot as well, is currently on IR. King, 28, will be in position to add some insurance.
While King did not make Ryans’ initial Houston roster, he spent the offseason learning the ex-49ers DC’s system and worked as a defensive regular during the team’s David Culley– and Lovie Smith-coached seasons. King, 28, played 86% of the Texans’ defensive snaps in 2021 and logged a 78% snap share last season. He carries an All-Pro distinction as a slot corner and return man — both honors coming in 2018 when King was with the Chargers — and resides as one of the league’s more experienced slot defenders.
After King played on two rebuilding Texans teams that received minimal attention, he will join a Ryans-led outfit that has started 6-4. Pro Football Focus rated King 20th among corners last season, marking an improvement after early struggles in Smith’s defense. Following that 2021 season, however, the Texans gave King a two-year, $7MM deal. As Nick Caserio has handed out a host of lower-middle-class contracts during his run as Texans GM, King was the recipient of two of those. Both contracts averaged $3.5MM per year. King will attempt to reestablish his value on this lower-cost Houston pact.