The Pittsburgh Steelers had a long list of free agents heading into the 2021 league year, and the vast majority of these free agents have signed contracts. Players like Mike Hilton, James Conner and Bud Dupree have all found new NFL homes, while JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyson Alualu and Cam Sutton have stayed in Pittsburgh.
But one big name free agent remains on the open market, and that is left tackle Alejandro Villanueva.
Villanueva has been rumored to potentially retired, rumored to be returning to the Steelers after the 2021 NFL Draft and, most recently, been to Baltimore to meet with the Ravens as a potential fit for him in 2021.
The meeting in Baltimore wasn’t a shock, especially when the Ravens pulled off a huge trade with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Ravens sent tackle Orlando Brown to the Chiefs in a blockbuster trade which sent draft capital going both ways between the two AFC powerhouse organizations.
Kansas City is trading its first-round pick Thursday night, along with three other picks in the 2021 and 2022 drafts, to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for Pro Bowl OT Orlando Brown and one pick in the 2021 draft and another in 2022, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 23, 2021
Immediately after the news broke of the trade, most assumed the loss of Brown would equal Villanueva being signed by the Ravens. Villanueva would be a cheaper option, and at least give Baltimore some experience at the position as they attempt to uplift an offensive line which hasn’t always been great at protecting the quarterback.
Josina Anderson reported there was growing optimism of the Ravens signing Villanueva to be a swing tackle for the Ravens.
My understanding is currently there's optimism that the #Ravens & OL Alejandro Villanueva can strike a deal, pending agreement on terms. Villanueva is viewed as being able to play RT for BAL, with the flexibility to swing inside if need be, or LT depending on R. Stanley's health.— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) April 23, 2021
However, later on Friday, ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley threw some water on the Villanueva to the Ravens news, stating the Ravens are going to explore all options before signing someone like Villanueva.
Update: In regards to Alejandro Villanueva, another source says there are no expectations as to a signing with Ravens. It’s possible a deal could happen with Baltimore, but team is considering all options to replace Brown, including the draft.— Jamison Hensley (@jamisonhensley) April 24, 2021
What does this mean for Villanueva? It likely means he will have to wait until after the 2021 NFL Draft before he finds out where his NFL future will take place. Could he end up in Baltimore? Absolutely, but he also could find his way back to Pittsburgh if the Steelers are unable to add a tackle to their roster during the three day draft process.
It is worth noting if Villanueva is signed somewhere after the draft, he would not count towards the Steelers’ compensatory draft formula.
This story is still developing, so be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the rest of NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.