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’s experience and versatility make him a soft ‘lock’ in a thin secondary.
Explanation: After losing two starting cornerbacks and two reserve safeties, the Steelers have largely replaced them with rookie late-round and undrafted options. Maulet, a veteran with experience playing both cornerback and safety, has far more time logged than any of the team’s reserves at either position.
While he may not have opened anybody’s eyes in the spring, or at least so it appears, the reality is that the Steelers have a gross lack of experience in their secondary outside of their starters. Maulet is the only guy with more than 100-some-odd defensive snaps played, between Justin Layne, James Pierre, Antoine Brooks Jr., and all the rookies and first-year players.
That alone should be enough to secure him a job, even if it is not as the primary nickel or dime defender, as somebody who is capable of filling in wherever he is needed. He has more than 800 defensive snaps played, most of it over the past two years with the Jets. But he also plays on special teams, capable of logging 100-plus snaps a season.
Weren’t we saying the same thing about Trevor Williams before the draft? While Maulet has more recent experience (Williams has dealt with injuries recently), he was also the versatile, experienced veteran. He was quickly released after the draft when they added these young guys.
The reality is that the Steelers want to see what the young guys can do. If they like what they have there, they’ll go with them. They could also still add a veteran like Malik Hooker, with whom they’ve previously visited.
You have Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Joe Haden, and Cameron Sutton at the top. Then you have the likely safe bets in James Pierre and Antoine Brooks Jr. at this point, with Justin Layne to a lesser extent. That’s seven out of perhaps 10. Tre Norwood is a strong candidate as a draft pick, and Shakur Brown was a priority free agent. If you add in a free agent, that gets you 10, and Maulet possibly on the outside looking in.