According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, former Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva has agreed to a two-year contract with the rival Baltimore Ravens.
Fowler’s colleague Adam Schefter indicates that it’s a two-year deal worth $14 million, with $8 million guaranteed.
Villanueva, 32, is coming off a four-year, $24 million contract with the Steelers that expired earlier this year, so this will be a career-high in earnings for the 6-foot-9 offensive tackle, who entered the NFL only after serving three tours of duty in the military.
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Villanueva’s agreement with the Ravens was not unexpected, as Pittsburgh’s AFC North rival hosted him for a visit two weeks ago. (The chances that Baltimore would sign Villanueva only increased when the team traded offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2021 first-round pick.)
Nor was the timing of Villanueva’s agreement unexpected, as free agent signings made after Monday’s deadline do not count against the compensatory pick formula. According to overthecap.com, 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 a third-rounder for losing David Culley, who is the new head coach of the Houston Texans.)
The expectation is that Villanueva will serve as Baltimore’s left tackle until All-Pro Ronnie Stanley is ready to return from the season-ending ankle injury he suffered against the Steelers on November 1, 2020.
Al Villanueva’s Rock-Solid Steelers Career
In May 2014 Villanueva came into the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, signing a free agent contract five years after he last played college football for the Army Black Knights, where he served as a wide receiver, tight end and left tackle. The Eagles tried Villanueva on the defensive line, a failed experiment, after which Pittsburgh added him and developed him into a starting left tackle,
All told, he started 90 regular-season games for the Steelers, including every game during the past five years, with his best seasons coming in 2017 and 2018, when he earned Pro Bowl honors.
The Steelers Are Going With Youth at Offensive Tackle
With Villanueva now officially out the door, Chukwuma Okorafor—a 2018 third-round pick—is “penciled in” as Pittsburgh’s starting left tackle.
Meanwhile, in March the team re-signed Zach Banner to a two-year, $8 million contract, and the expectation is that he will start at right tackle.
The Steelers also added former Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard/tackle Joe Haeg in free agency and drafted Dan Moore Jr. out of Texas A&M in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Finally, Pittsburgh has five offensive tackles signed to one-year Future/Reserve contracts, including former Minnesota Vikings tackle Aviante Collins and Brandon Walton, who spent most of last season on the practice squad, having played both tackle positions at Florida Atlantic.
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