Blockbuster Trade Opens Door for Ravens to Sign Steelers’ Al Villanueva


Getty Images Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva blocking against the Chicago Bears in 2017.

On Friday the Baltimore Ravens traded offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and two other draft picks to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a 2021 first-round pick (No. 31 overall) and three other selections in the 2021 and 2022 NFL Drafts.

Adam Schefter, senior NFL insider for ESPN, relates the specifics of the swap below:

Brown—who started at right tackle during his first two seasons with the Ravens—filled in at left tackle for Ronnie Stanley after the All-Pro suffered a season-ending ankle injury in a game against the Steelers midway through last season. With Stanley on a five-year, $98.75 million contract, he’ll be getting his old job back when he’s healthy. That explains why Brown—who is 6-foot-8 and 345 pounds—requested a trade in January, while also sending out a tweet proclaiming: “I’m a LEFT tackle.”

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How the Trade Impacts the Steelers

Friday’s trade opens the door for the Ravens to sign unrestricted free agent offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who has been Pittsburgh’s left tackle since 2015 and has started every game for the Steelers for the past five years.

According to Jaminson Hensley, Ravens reporter for ESPN, Villanueva visited with the Ravens on Thursday, and the expectation is that he will be signing with the Ravens—with the deal becoming official after the draft.

It makes sense that the Ravens would wait to formally consummate a deal because free agent signings that occur after the compensatory pick deadline has passed don’t affect the award of compensatory picks. According to, the Ravens are currently expected to receive two extra fourth-round selections in 2022 for losing Matt Judon and Yannick Ngakoue in free agency. (The Ravens are also slated to receive an extra third-rounder for losing David Culley, who is the new head coach of the Houston Texans.)

Alternatively, the Ravens could be waiting until after the draft to see what they come away with in terms of draft picks. Keep in mind that Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins and Michigan’s Jaylen Mayfield are among the tackles who have been projected to go to Baltimore in the first round of the upcoming selection meeting. The Ravens also have at least one potential in-house replacement in Tyre Phillips, who made eight starts for Baltimore as a rookie.

Meanwhile, Back in Pittsburgh …

Assuming that Pittsburgh loses Villanueva in free agency, the Steelers will be getting a lot younger at offensive tackle. The leading contenders to start at tackle would be: Zach Banner, who was recently re-signed to a two-year, $8 million contract but is still rehabbing from the torn ACL he suffered last September; and Chukwuma Okorafor, a former third-round pick who is entering the last year of the rookie contract he signed in 2018.

The Steelers also added Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard/tackle Joe Haeg in free agency and have five offensive tackles signed to one-year Future/Reserve contracts, a group that includes Aviante Collins, John Leglue and Brandon Walton, not to mention Jarron Jones, who still faces some legal uncertainty stemming from his arrest in October 2020.

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