The Steelers have officially released veteran cornerback Desmond King and signed rookie Darius Rush, the team announced on Wednesday. It was reported yesterday that King would be either waived or traded and with the team not finding anyone interested in King, they have cut him loose.
King only played in one defensive snap with the Steelers. He was inactive for several games, but once injuries piled up at kick returner, King took over as the starting kick returner in Week 3 after injuries to Anthony McFarland and Gunner Olszewski. Pittsburgh will try to find a trade partner to acquire something minimal, or they will cut ties with King.
King, 28, played over 900 snaps for the Houston Texans in the last two seasons and did it relatively well, especially in 2022, when he had an 89.2 passer rating when targeted per Pro Football Focus.
A fifth-round pick of the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017, King was a contributor right away as a rookie and has played at least 15 games in his five NFL seasons. King became a part-time starter in his second season and continued that role until he was traded to the Tennessee Titans mid-season in 2020.
A free agent in 2021, he signed a one-year deal with Houston, which made him the Texans’ starting slot cornerback. Before last season, he signed a two-year contract extension and played well, setting a career-high in total snaps played, adding 103 snaps of special teams to his 918 of defense. He finished fourth on the Houston defense with 89 tackles and had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
King said he always wanted to play for Pittsburgh once he signed with the team due to his perception of Mike Tomlin. However, after weeks of preparation, he never got a consistent workload on the field. On his lone defensive snap, King took a bad angle and allowed Ravens running back Justice Hill to scamper into the endzone for a touchdown.
Pittsburgh signed rookie Rush, an exclusively outside cornerback, to their active roster with the impending move of King leaving. Chandon Sullivan will remain the starting nickel cornerback, while Elijah Riley and Patrick Peterson will supplement him.