Former Packers Top 40 pick resurfaces with Falcons after three years

The Atlanta Falcons are signing cornerback Kevin King, who last played for the Green Bay Packers in the 2021 NFL season.
Oakland Raiders v Green Bay Packers
Oakland Raiders v Green Bay Packers / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

The Atlanta Falcons signed cornerback Kevin King on Monday.

The 28-year-old cornerback is making his return to the NFL after a two-year hiatus. King was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. After his four-year rookie contract, King signed a one-year deal to remain with Green Bay.

He finished his tenure in Green Bay with 197 total tackles, a sack, three quarterback hits and five tackles for loss. He also recorded two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and seven interceptions.

Kevin King signs with Atlanta Falcons after two-year hiatus

If King can knock off the rust and stay healthy, he could prove to be a valuable addition for the Falcons. Atlanta's secondary is led by star cornerback A.J. Terrell and safety Jessie Bates, but they lack depth at the cornerback position. Second-year cornerback Clark Philips III is currently slotted to line up on the perimeter across from Terrell, with cornerback Mike Hughes in the nickel role.

Still, King will have to work himself back into game-shape after missing the past two seasons. He also has a long history of injuries — King missed 30 of a possible 81 regular season games during his five-year stint in Green Bay.

Following the 2021 campaign, King remained unsigned and opted to sit out the 2022 season for personal reasons. He explained why he stepped away from football in an emotional video in May 2023. King noted that he needed a break from the mental strain of the injuries that he had battled through during his professional career. He had to undergo surgery for a torn labrum after his rookie season. He suffered a hamstring injury in his sophomore campaign and eventually landed on injured reserve list.

"After my fifth year with the Packers, I was actually pretty healthy," King said in the video. "It was a time when I felt pretty good for the first time in a while. My first four years, I had a surgery after every year, so I didn't have too much of a chance to have an offseason. ... They don't really talk about the wear-and-tear on you mentally that [comes from] dealing with injuries."

King's time in Green Bay was far from easy. He wasn't greeted with a warm welcome in Green Bay, as fans were angry at former Packers general manager Ted Thompson, who passed on outside linebacker T.J. Watt and traded down for King instead.

Then, King became the scapegoat for Green Bay's NFC Championship Game loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 2021 NFL playoffs. Head coach Matt LaFleur miscommunicated a defensive play call with then-defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, and Tom Brady took advantage by hitting wide receiver Scotty Miller on a 39-yard touchdown with one second left in the first half. King was blamed for the blown coverage.

King has some familiarity with Atlanta's coaching staff. Falcons defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake was Washington's secondary coach for the later three years of King's collegiate career. Falcons secondary coach Justin Hood and assistant head coach Jerry Gray were both with the Packers during King's final years in Green Bay. Maybe the familiarity will help him get a head start on his comeback.

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