4 cornerbacks the NY Jets could target in 2022 free agency

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NY Jets, Desmond King / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

4. The NY Jets could target Desmond King

If you haven’t watched football since 2018, you may be confused about how Desmond King is a free agent this year.

King was one of the top cornerbacks in the league as a rookie in 2018, recording a fantastic Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade of 85.7. He followed up that season with an elite 90.5 and All-Pro selection. By the end of the 2018 season, King had established himself as a top cornerback in the NFL.

The 2019 season was a down year for King, though. The former fifth-round pick failed to record an interception that season, notched only two pass deflections, and received a good but not great 70.2 PFF score, a 20.3-point fall from his previous grade.

King was traded to Tennessee for just a sixth round pick and continued his decline, recording a 2020 PFF grade of 65.5 — a decent score but nothing to write home about.

Following his short stint in Tennessee, he went to Houston last offseason, only to perform quite poorly for them. King recorded a career-low 53.0 PFF grade — an unrosterable score.

In their free-agent rankings list for this offseason, PFF calls King the 149th best FA and projects a one-year, $2.5 million contract following his forgettable 2021 campaign with the Texans. At this price, Douglas would be foolish not to sign the 27-year old.

First of all, King provides incredible upside. He was one of the league’s top cornerbacks just three seasons ago. He also followed up those elite seasons with two solid-to-good seasons, amounting to four plus-seasons over his five-year career.

Also, with All-Pro returner Braxton Berrios set to hit the open market, King could perhaps fill in for him. Back in 2018, King averaged an incredible 13.8 yards on punt returns, as well as a very solid 23.7 yards on kick returns. Even in 2021, King was still a good punt returner, averaging over nine yards per return.

Even further, King provides great versatility, as he has experience at both safety and slot cornerback. He has always been strong in zone coverage and graded out as a top run-defending cornerback last season per PFF. King has never had injury concerns, either.

At just $2.5 million, Desmond King seems like a no-brainer of a signing for the Jets. No matter what other moves Douglas makes at the position, King should be added this offseason.