Anyone who followed the Arizona Cardinals throughout the offseason would have to admit that they saw this one coming. A large contingent of the team's fans, including yours truly, practically begged general manager Monti Ossenfort to add proven talent at the cornerback position. Instead, the club's brand-new personnel boss elected to go with an inadequate group, and the Cards defense is suffering dearly because of it.
Luckily for Arizona, an opportunity to bring in some help for the less-than-ideal situation has presented itself. It was announced on Wednesday that the Pittsburgh Steelers were releasing veteran cover guy Desmond King. Would Ossenfort admit his mistake, and bring in a reinforcement who possesses a much more impressive track record than any corner in the Redbirds locker room?
For whatever the reason, King simply wasn't fitting in with what the Steelers wanted to do on defense. That was surprising, considering the fact that the 28-year-old had been a solid contributor in all six of his previous pro campaigns. In fact, King was fresh off of the two most productive seasons of his NFL career when he signed with Pittsburgh in late August.
During a two-year stint with the Houston Texans (2021-22), King racked up an eye-popping 182 tackles, 11 of which were for a loss. The 5 foot 10, 200 pounder was also outstanding in pass-coverage, registering five interceptions and 14 passes defensed in 33 total appearances (25 starts) for Houston.
King entered the league back in 2017 as a fifth-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Chargers. In 53 games (23 starts) for the franchise, the former University of Iowa product tallied 189 tackles, four picks and 17 pass breakups. King also wreaked havoc as a pass-rusher with the Chargers, totaling 7.5 sacks when he was utilized on cornerback blitzes.
Arizona Cardinals overestimated a cornerbacks group that is loaded with youth
The Cardinals would be on the hook for very little money if they did decide to pluck King off of waivers. Pittsburgh inked the 2018 First-team All-Pro to a one-year contract that was worth just a little over a million dollars. It's almost impossible to figure out what's going on in Ossenfort's head these days, but it would seem that acquiring a capable defender like King would be a no-brainer.
It was clear from the beginning that the Cards had greatly overestimated the coverage ability of Marco Wilson, the squad's third-year pro. The 24-year-old is by no means a terrible player. However, believing that Wilson could hold up as Arizona's number-one cover guy was positively ludicrous.
The Cardinals coaching staff also made a grave mistake when they made a sixth-round choice in this past April's draft a Week 1 starter. Like Wilson, rookie Kei'Trel Clark certainly possesses the skills needed to be a serviceable corner. Even so, it was ridiculous to think that the 180th-overall selection could stick with pro football's best wide receivers at such an early stage of his career.
In what is already trending towards a lost season, Ossenfort should be doing whatever he can to keep the "Red Sea" watching. A lack of talent at cornerback could lead to blowout defeats, and that's something that could make even a loyal fanbase find better ways to spend their Sundays. Adding inexpensive reinforcements like King could help to prevent that from happening, and make this bleak period in Cards history a bit easier to digest.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)