Ravens’ Huge Trade Named Team’s Riskiest Offseason Move

Alejandro Villanueva

Getty Alejandro Villanueva on the bench with the Steelers.

The Baltimore Ravens have had a big offseason, and one of the top moves the team made was a huge trade that saw the team ship off veteran offensive lineman Orlando Brown.

In the end, though, that deal may prove to be a mistake, or at the very least, a huge risk for the Ravens to take all things considered. Trading Brown away for a draft pick haul made good business sense for the Ravens, but it was a definite risk to replace him with Alejandro Villanueva like the team did.

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Analyst Gary Davenport at Bleacher Report wrote about the move and cited it as a major risk for the Ravens this year. The reason? All about Villanueva’s experience up front, or lack there of at the key position of right tackle where he will be asked to play.

He wrote:

“First off, this isn’t meant as a criticism of Baltimore’s decision to trade tackle Orlando Brown Jr. The 25-year-old Pro Bowler made it clear he wanted no part of moving back to right tackle in 2021. The Ravens were able to get a first-round pick from the Kansas City Chiefs in return for Brown—a pick that was used to bolster the pass rush with the addition of Penn State’s Odafe Oweh.

The Ravens then patched that hole with a veteran tackle with a pair of Pro Bowls on his resume, signing Alejandro Villanueva to a two-year, $14 million pact.

However, there’s some risk involved in the swap.

For starters, Villanueva played left tackle during his six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He may turn out to be a capable right tackle in his new home. But the switch isn’t as simple as doing everything in reverse.

Also, while Villanueva was a capable player in 2020 (allowing three sacks in just under 1,100 snaps), it’s been some time since he made the Pro Bowl. He’s also a much better pass protector than run-blocker, which could be an issue for a Ravens team that runs the ball as much as any squad in the league.”

The tradeoff netted the Ravens some extra draft compensation which is a win for the team. Whether they feel Brown’s loss or not will be seen, but at this point, it’s tough to argue that the Ravens didn’t come out ahead simply due to what they did gain in the trade. That’s true regardless of how Villanueva plays.

In the end, though, some still are keen to see the risk for the team.

Ravens’ Offensive Line Needed Boost

Regardless of what anyone thinks of the trade, it did make sense for the Ravens given Brown’s situation. It also made It makes sense that the Ravens would try to pounce on another veteran solution for their offensive line this offseason, as the team struggled up front in 2020. Baltimore never dealt well with the departure of Marshal Yanda, and though they tried younger options, it always seemed as if the best move for the team would be to go outside the family in order to make a veteran addition. Kevin Zeitler entered the mix in free agency. In the end, Brown was traded so the team needed all the veteran help they can get to help bridge the gap in the trenches. Adding Ben Cleveland at guard wasn’t enough, and Villanueva can at least chip in up front for the team.

How it works out will be anyone’s guess, but the one thing that cannot be discounted is the level of change the team has seen up front.

Villanueva Stats and Highlights

At 32, Villanueva is young enough that he could be a player who comes in and plays a very solid role for the Ravens. The former Army Football stud who was a Bronze Star winner in the military, Villanueva is not only a decorated veteran but a player who has been solid in the NFL as well given his status as a two-time Pro Bowl player in 2017 and 2018. Villanueva has also played in 96 total league games with 90 starts under his belt, so he does bring some experience to the mix.

Villanueva also played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014 where he started his career as an undrafted free agent. The lineman also has a fun touchdown reception to his credit during his time in the league.

Chris Boswell touchdown pass to Alejandro VillanuevaThe Steelers faked a field goal for a touchdown against the Broncos. *I do not own this clip, it is from NFL and CBS*2018-11-25T22:50:03Z

Overall, Villanueva figures to look like a good addition for the Ravens, even as there is risk to his signing.

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