A little more than a month before then, King sounded a bit perturbed with his playing time in L.A.:
Altogether, the Iowa product finished with 50 tackles, two sacks and two passes defended.
That the Chargers traded him away—for a late-round selection no less—would give the impression his contributions had been marginal or inconsequential.
King's performance has fallen off a bit from 2018, when he intercepted four passes and earned first-team All-Pro honors as well as making second-team All-Pro as a punt returner. Still, Pro Football Focus alluded to how tantalizing that version of him is when ranking the former Hawkeyes star as the 21st-best free agent available heading into the offseason:
"The jury is still out on exactly how good Desmond King is and can be going forward. Since coming into the NFL, King is still—just about—the best-graded slot defender in football, but that is all built on his play over the first two seasons of play for the Chargers. He posted back to back overall PFF grades of 85.7 and then 88.6 before coming off the boil and failing to find that same production since."
His run with Tennessee did little to resolve the dilemma.
He returned a fumble for a touchdown in his first appearance, a 24-17 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 9. However, PFF noted he had a coverage grade of just 50.5 with the Titans.
His value isn't tied solely to his pass coverage. King can perform a number of different roles from multiple positions. In the Wild Card Round, for example, he shadowed 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson. With teams embracing run-pass options, having a player who can slide into spy duties is a nice luxury.
Signing King undoubtedly carries a level of risk.
Perhaps he'll be incapable of recapturing what made him an elite slot cornerback. Because his value has taken such a hit, this deal will prove to be a bargain if he ultimately enjoys a rebound in 2021.
The Texans have been active this offseason, and King is one of now four cornerbacks they've either re-signed or brought in from outside the team. First-year general manager Nick Caserio is wasting no time building the roster how he sees fit.
Especially if Houston winds up trading Deshaun Watson, a short-term gamble on King is a smart move for a franchise that is rebuilding.