Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth 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 have seen and are seeing over the course of the season and into 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 reasoning. 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. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: CB Arthur Maulet
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: After signing after the draft as a non-compensatory free agent at a minimum salary with no signing bonus, Arthur Maulet earned a stable role in the Steelers’ defense, which figures likely to earn him another contract in Pittsburgh this offseason.
The Steelers decided, largely dictated by financial forces relative to the salary cap, to allow four-year starting nickel back Mike Hilton walk in free agency. He signed a robust four-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals, whom he helped advance to the Super Bowl.
Hilton’s absence put a damper on what Pittsburgh could do on defense, especially early on in the season while they were exploring a variety of different options and figuring out which combinations gave them the best chance of success.
They ultimately decided on Arthur Maulet as their primary nickel defender, a veteran defensive back whom they signed after the draft to a minimum salary that included no guaranteed money—meaning, if he did not make the team, he would make nothing outside of per diems during the offseason.
Maulet’s skill set in many ways mirrored that of Hilton, an undersized but versatile defensive back whose strength lay not in his specialty but in his diversity. He could play the run and blitz as well as play in coverage, even if neither do all things equally.
The Steelers came to rely heavily upon Hilton’s physicality in the nickel. Maulet was able to provide them some of that, but at the same time, you also get what you pay for. Maulet was a downgrade from Hilton pretty much across the board, but they certainly got their money’s worth as well.
It’s unlikely he’ll find a robust market this offseason, but it would be foolish for the Steelers to let him go for the depth that he can provide, especially with so many holes to fill on the roster and three other important players in the secondary also pending unrestricted free agents. He played well enough to stick around.