2021 Stock Watch — S John Battle — Stock Sold

Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.

A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.

Player: S John Battle

Stock Value: Sold

Reasoning: After the Steelers failed to draft a true safety, it seemed to be good news for first-year John Battle. They did sign multiple safeties and safety-capable players after the draft, before adding veteran Arthur Maulet, resulting in the team waiving Battle in a corresponding move.

I posited shortly after the draft that John Battle’s stock was up following a nine-man class in which the only player the Steelers added in the secondary was Tre Norwood in the seventh round, a player who would have to compete to make the roster, and who is not strictly a safety.

Battle spent almost all of the 2020 season on the Steelers’ practice squad after originally signing a futures deal at the end of the previous season. Since the last season ended, they allowed Sean Davis to leave in free agency, and have not re-signed Jordan Dangerfield, leaving just Battle and 2020 sixth-round pick Antoine Brooks Jr. as the depth behind the starters at safety.

This being May and all, of course, it’s not shocking that things have changed, as they were due to change. They had already brought in Karl Joseph for a free agent visit before the draft. A week after the draft, they have now signed Maulet, a former 2017 college free agent who has logged 35 games with three different teams in the interim, including 12 starts, most recently for the New York Jets.

Maulet is listed by the team as a safety, but is also capable of playing in cornerback roles. He now represents the only experienced depth that the team has, frankly, at either position. The Steelers also released cornerback Trevor Williams, another experienced player.

Battle was undrafted out of LSU in 2019, and has never spent time on a 53-man roster. There were those who had a draftable grade on him coming out. There was some minor enthusiasm when he first signed a futures deal. None of us have ever seen him in a Steelers uniform, except in a couple of training camp pictures. It’s hard to call it a big loss.

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