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Steelers to Sign Veteran Slot Cornerback



Steelers Desmond King
Houston Texans defensive back Desmond King II (25) runs to the outside during an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Zach Bolinger)

The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to sign veteran cornerback Desmond King after his release on Tuesday by the Houston Texans, according to a report by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. It is expected to be a one-year contract. Terms have not been reported.

King, 28, played over 900 snaps for the Houston Texans in each of 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.

He played most of his time in the slot, where he’s also a relatively solid run defender and at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, is a somewhat thicker body than the Steelers have in Patrick Peterson and Chandon Sullivan.

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 each of 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.

This training camp, with a changeover in coaching staff in Houston, he lost his slot cornerback job to free agent Tavierre Thomas.

The Steelers will need to make a move to clear a spot for King on the 53-man roster. Slot cornerback and backup safety Elijah Riley, who made the initial 53-man roster for the first time in his career, could be an option to be cut. The Steelers also still have two punters on the 53-man roster, and are expected to try to trade one soon. 

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