Another starter from the Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 team has landed within the AFC North division. After Mike Hilton’s departure for the Cincinnati Bengals in March, veteran left tackle Alejandro Villanueva has signed a two-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens worth a reported $14 million. This per NFL networks Ian Rappaport.
It appeared the Steelers had limited interest in a return of Villanueva for the 2021 season, particularly at the price he received in Baltimore. Villanueva will turn 33 two weeks into the start of the 2021 season.
Starting every game at left tackle for the Steelers over the last five seasons, Villanueva was selected to the Pro Bowl in both 2017 and 2018. As for the 2020 season, Villanueva was the Steelers highest ranked offensive lineman according to Pro Football Focus, although many believe his play deteriorated as the season went on.
The Steelers seemed intent on going into the season with Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner as there are two main options at the tackle position. Banner won the starting right tackle competition last offseason but was injured before completing the Steelers Week 1 game in New York. Okorafor stepped in and started the remaining 15 games at right tackle as well as the Steelers Wildcard game.
The Steelers also addressed the tackle position in both free agency and the 2021 NFL draft. The Steelers signed Joe Haeg who played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. Additionally, the Steelers drafted Dan Moore Jr. out of Texas A&M in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL draft.
By waiting until Tuesday, May 4, the Ravens avoided having Villanueva’s contract affect their compensatory formula for the 2022 NFL draft. By waiting until the deadline, the Ravens are currently estimated to gain two fourth-round picks next season. Had Villanueva signed earlier, one of the picks would have been lost. But by helping themselves, the departure Villanueva does not net the Steelers another draft pick had he signed a mere 24 hours earlier. With Villanueva‘s average yearly salary matching that of what Matt Feiler received by the Los Angeles Chargers, he likely would have gained the Steelers an additional fifth-round compensatory pick in 2022.
Rumors placing Villanueva with the Ravens have been going on for weeks, so the NFL could investigate the situation of them simply not submitting a signed contract until after the deadline. But it does not appear Villanueva actually put pen to paper prior to the deadline.
The previous reports of Villanueva in Baltimore also include a possible move to right tackle. If so, it will be very interesting to see Villanueva go up against All-Pro outside linebacker T.J. Watt for two games in 2021.
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