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: Down
Reasoning: The veteran slot cornerback is somebody whom we basically heard nothing about nor anything from throughout an offseason in which the Steelers added to the secondary.
Although the Steelers showed how much they value him by re-signing him to a two-year contract, the reality is that, on paper, it’s hard to see where Arthur Maulet gets on the field on defense, barring multiple injuries.
Having taken over the primary slot cornerback responsibilities for a good chunk of last season, we can’t anticipate that he will find himself in a similar role in 2022. Cameron Sutton is likely to be the primary slot defender with Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon playing on the outside.
While the pure cornerback position is light on options among those who can play inside—both Wallace and Witherspoon, as well as reserves James Pierre and Justin Layne, are limited to boundary play—they also have two versatile defensive backs who can and have played in the slot, namely second-year Tre Norwood and the more recently acquired veteran Damontae Kazee.
Kazee is an experienced starting safety who has experience playing in the slot, and is likely a player that the Steelers will want to find ways to get on the field while backing up Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds as the starting safeties.
In other words, he and Norwood will probably be competing for playing time as the dime defender, as well as in the role of the backup nickel. Maulet, too, should be in the mix, and may be used in specialized settings such as when a run is more likely than normal, but the bottom line is there is a lot of competition for whatever defensive role he might find himself in this year.
We may see him take on a larger presence on special teams, where he played a career-high 163 snaps last season, although that was barely a third of the total special teams snaps in games in which he played. In his final season with the New York Jets, he played nearly 50 percent of the special teams snaps in 11 games, and he played even more on defense that year than he did during his first season in Pittsburgh.