With the 2022 new league year, the questions will be plenty for quite a while, even as the Pittsburgh Steelers spend cash and cap space and use draft picks in an effort to find answers. We don’t know who the quarterback is going to be yet—even if we have a good idea. How will the offensive line be formulated? How will the secondary develop amid changes, including to the coaching staff? What does Teryl Austin bring to the table—and Brian Flores? What will Matt Canada’s offense look like absent Ben Roethlisberger?
These sorts of uncertainties are 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).
Topic Statement: Will CB Arthur Maulet make the team?
Explanation: First, a brief explanation about the byline. Matthew Marczi is on a well-deserved vacation this week, so I’m filling in with a couple of his article topics until he returns this weekend.
To the topic, will CB Arthur Maulet be a Steeler come Week 1 against Cincinnati? Signed to a one-year deal last season, he re-upped on a slightly more lucrative two-year deal this offseason. The team’s run-down, slot corner last season, Maulet picked up 47 tackles (five for a loss) and a forced fumble in 2021. But Pittsburgh has added plenty of competition this summer, making his roster spot less-than-secure.
The fact Maulet earned a two-year deal instead of another one-year contract isn’t a sign he’s a lock, but it’s certainly an encouraging indicator and doesn’t hurt his chances of making the team. He offers the unique skillset of being a physical slot corner willing to sacrifice his body. A poor man’s version of Mike Hilton. Maulet isn’t as good in any area, especially in coverage and as a blitzer, but he has traits other cornerbacks on the team don’t possess. Pittsburgh must improve their run defense and having a solid run-stopping nickel corner off the edge, while not central, is part of that. Maulet can play on special teams and is a solid teammate and locker room presence.
Maulet may have a two-year deal, but Mike Tomlin isn’t checking contract status when it comes time to trim the roster to 53. It’s a crowded cornerback room especially in the slot. Cam Sutton could play inside more with Levi Wallace signing, and there’s even been reports Wallace has played a little bit of slot corner. Tre Norwood enjoyed a solid rookie season and is the much better cover player, replacing Maulet in dime packages last year. Rarely did Maulet play on obvious passing downs (56 snaps on third/fourth down in ’21). Hours after the draft ended, the team added veteran Damontae Kazee to the mix who can play the slot/safety role like Maulet. Something compelled the team to add Kazee even knowing Maulet was on the roster.
Maulet’s skillset has value but he’s an incredibly niche player with a narrow use, run-down slot corner, and his coverage skills are weak. There may be too much competition in the CB room this year for him to survive.