In their mad dash to find cornerbacks for the 2020 season, the Minnesota Vikings appear to have another trade target just one month away from training camp.
The Los Angeles Chargers have put slot cornerback Desmond King on the trading block after signing Chris Harris this offseason. If we're really connecting the dots, a Twitter interaction between King and his former Iowa teammate Jaleel Johnson may signal that the Vikings would welcome him with open arms.
Although King liked the tweet, it also was not from the desk of Rick Spielman or Mike Zimmer, so we don't know the Vikings exact interest. However, King makes an intriguing addition to a defense that needs experience heading into next season.
What King brings to the table
In his first three seasons with the Chargers, King has successfully transitioned from playing safety with the Hawkeyes to become the team's slot cornerback.
In 2017 and 2018, King's coverage in the slot was among the best in the league according to Pro Football Focus. After ranking 13th among qualifying cornerbacks with an 86.5 passer rating when targeted in 2017, King improved to ninth with a 79.8 rating the following year.
But things soured in 2019 as King allowed a 114.5 passer rating last season, ranking 47th in the league. Even more concerning was a Rhodesian 87.8% completion rate in coverage, which led the Chargers to sign Harris away from the Broncos.
Looking at last season's numbers, a trade to acquire Harris may seem like a trap especially when Mike Hughes, who is a favorite to start in the slot next season, ranked sixth in opposing passer rating (70.4) in slot coverage.
But Hughes is also recovering from a broken vertebra and with rookies needing time to learn Mike Zimmer's system, a player that has played in all 48 games since entering the league is something the Vikings seriously need.
What would it cost to get King?
Of course, actually getting King to Minnesota would require the Vikings to give up an important piece in return. An idea from Chargers fan blog Bolts Beat suggested that offensive tackle Riley Reiff would be a good trade for both sides.
From the Vikings' standpoint, it would make sense after the selection of Ezra Cleveland in this year's draft. Trading Reiff would also clear up $11 million in cap room per Spotrac, which would allow the Vikings to potentially up their offers during negotiations with Anthony Harris and Dalvin Cook.
But such a move would also come with concerns. Cleveland fell out of the first round largely because teams thought he would be a project. With no on-field reps this offseason, Cleveland might not be ready to start from Day 1, making the prospect of dealing Reiff risky.
Perhaps this means that the Vikings would be best suited in dipping into their pool of 12 picks in the 2021 draft, which could grow based on potential compensatory picks for Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander.
Should the Vikings be interested?
Overall, the addition of King would make sense for Minnesota if the price is right. With just a $2 million cap hit in the final year of his rookie deal, King could at least be a veteran stopgap while Jeff Gladney, Cameron Dantzler, or another young corner gets another year in Zimmer's development plan.
At best, the Vikings could fill in an important piece of their defense with a player that already has three years of experience under his belt. On a roster that currently holds 15 rookies, such a deal would make sense especially if the currency involves late-round picks.
There is the hangup that Rick Spielman wouldn't give up a fourth or fifth-rounder under most circumstances, but he also burned fifth-round picks repeatedly trying to find a kicker over the past three seasons. This would be a better investment and one that could help the Vikings stay afloat.