Chargers trade former All-Pro Desmond King to the Tennessee Titans

Chargers defensive back Desmond King returns a punt against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Chargers defensive back Desmond King returns a punt against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 25. He was traded to the Tennessee Titans on Monday.
(John Cordes / Associated Press)

This time two years ago, Desmond King was putting together a season so impressive for the Chargers that he would be selected All-Pro at two positions.

Today, King is no longer on the team.

The Chargers traded the defensive back to Tennessee on Monday for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 draft.

“Sometimes, a player just needs a fresh start,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “I wish Des all the best in the world. I hope he goes there and kills it and just has a great career. But his time was up here.”

King was first team All-Pro as a defensive back and second team as a punt returner in 2018. During that season, he emerged as a playmaking slot corner and as a weapon with the ball in his hands.


King’s status slipped last year and his playing time decreased. In Week 15, he was ruled out of a home game against Minnesota for reasons not related to an injury.

For the fourth game in a row, the Chargers defense blew a double-digit lead. Against the Broncos, they held on until the last play when Denver scored the winning touchdown.

Nov. 1, 2020

In March, the Chargers signed free agent Chris Harris Jr., a veteran who is considered to be among the NFL’s best slot corners, further diminishing King’s role.

With his playing time down, King took to social media in September to question why he wasn’t being used more. The next day, Lynn called King’s decision to share his feelings publicly “disappointing.”

After Harris injured a foot in a Week 3 loss to Carolina, King assumed his old job and played extensively for three games, starting two of them.

But he was ruled out Sunday when the Chargers visited Denver for reasons not injury related. That apparently was enough for Lynn and the team.


“It’s disappointing to see him leave because that’s a friend of mine,” cornerback Casey Hayward said. “I’m happy for him at the same time. He gets an opportunity to go somewhere and play. Hopefully, he does really well.”

With the Titans, who have been dealing with injuries in their secondary, King is expected to play nickel back.

The 25-year-old was a fifth-round pick out of Iowa in 2017. King appeared in 53 games with 23 starts for the Chargers.

With King gone and Harris still out, Tevaughn Campbell figures to inherit most of the snaps. A former CFL player, Campbell was on the field for 51 of 65 defensive snaps Sunday.

Late meltdowns

The Chargers have squandered leads of at least 16 points in an NFL-record four consecutive games after losing 31-30 to Denver Sunday when leading by 21 points in the third quarter.

But, for now at least, Lynn indicated there are no changes planned among the coaches.

“Firing people in the middle of the season,” he said, “that’s not always the right thing to do.”


For the fourth game in a row, the Chargers defense blew a double-digit lead. Against the Broncos, they held on until the last play when Denver scored the winning touchdown.

Nov. 1, 2020

Last October, with the team sitting at 3-5, Lynn dismissed offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. The Chargers were struggling to move the ball, particularly on the ground.

Lynn has been asked several times in recent weeks about defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, whose unit has been inconsistent and melted down again in the second half Sunday.

“Two totally different situations,” Lynn said. “I don’t like to let anybody go. That’s not my goal when I hire these men. We work through things. We get through things together. That situation was different.”

After building their 24-3 lead, the Chargers allowed Denver to score touchdowns on four of its final five possessions. The Broncos totaled 28 points in 21 minutes and 5 seconds.

One of Denver’s drives lasted nine plays and another 14. But the Chargers also gave up a 55-yard touchdown run by Phillip Lindsay and a 40-yard scoring pass by Drew Lock.

Lynn blamed the breakdowns on lacking communication and execution, two things that have plagued the defense over the last four games.


In an effort to have a greater impact on the opposing quarterback, the Chargers have attempted to be more varied on defense this season, especially mixing coverages. Lynn suggested the scheme could be simplified.

Bosa concussion

Defensive end Joey Bosa’s status is unknown as the Chargers begin to prepare for their gameagainst Las Vegas on Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

Bosa is in concussion protocol, and the Chargers will have to monitor his progress as the week unfolds.

Running back Troymaine Pope also is in concussion protocol after he was injured during the fourth quarter.


Hayward said he was fine after failing to finish the Broncos game because of a calf problem. He was kneed in the lower leg during the fourth quarter. … The Chargers are 0-3 this season when leading by 17 or more points. The rest of the NFL is 52-4, according to ESPN.… Second-year free safety Nasir Adderley struggled against Denver in coverage and also committed a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. “Right now,” Lynn said, “Nas has got to get better.”