The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Arthur Maulet is your number three safety for the 2021 season.
Explanation: The Steelers announced the signing of free agent Arthur Maulet on Friday, whom they list as a safety, though he has also played cornerback. The team doesn’t have much depth at the position, and also released John Battle in a corresponding move, who was on the practice squad last season.
By process of elimination, there simply aren’t any other options on the roster right now. You have Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, and then…nobody. Sean Davis was a viable third safety last year, but he’s gone. Maulet is the guy now.
Before Davis was released by Washington, the Steelers refused to go into the 2020 season without a veteran safety, signing Curtis Riley, who made the initial 53-man roster until they were able to bring back their former second-round pick.
Antoine Brooks Jr. is the only other non-rookie or first-year player, and none of these young players have any pedigree or were players whose stock clearly fell out of nowhere. They knew that they needed to add a veteran, having previously brought in Karl Joseph. Maulet is now that guy.
Maulet, like Riley, isn’t even guaranteed to be here on opening day. There’s a very reasonable chance, for one thing, that sometime between now and the end of the preseason, a veteran safety is going to be made available that they like more, and that they can bring in cheap, to give them the depth they’re looking for.
They also have a couple of interesting names among the rookies, including seventh-round pick Tre Norwood, who seems to profile best as a safety, in my opinion. Lamont Wade comes out of Penn State as a college free agent with some potential, as well. And while he may not be suited for free safety, I think it’s clear that the Steelers are fans of Brooks. But at the end of the day, it may simply be that Cameron Sutton is your third safety when push comes to shove.