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Villanueva puts Steelers ahead of contract and shows for minicamp; Bell a no-show

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Alejadro Villanueva is a team-first player, and he proved that by reporting to Steelers minicamp without a contract.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday marked the beginning of Pittsburgh Steelers minicamp, and Le’Veon Bell was a no-show. He doesn’t have to show up, even for mandatory minicamp, as he isn’t under contract. Bell has until July 15 to either come to terms on a new long-term contract, or to sign his one-year franchise tag.

But Bell isn’t the story here. He is still recovering from a groin injury, and missed all of the team’s Organized Team Activities (OTAs).

What should be discussed is Alejandro Villanueva, who also despite a current contract, who showed up and participated at the team’s minicamp. Villanueva is a team-first player, and would be playing 2017 for $615 thousand dollars if he signs his Exclusive Rights Free Agent tender. A far cry from the $12 million dollars Bell would make if he has to “settle” with the franchise tag.

So, why did Villanueva show for minicamp when he doesn’t have to?

Respect.

“There are a lot of guys in here. I’m just equally important as everyone else,” Villanueva told Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The decisions I have to make the decisions the Steelers have to make are independent, but at the same time I completely respect and understand the factors that go into their decision-making. There is nothing I can do from my aspect. All I can do is control what I can do.”

Villanueva has decided to stay out of the negotiations, leaving that to his sports agent, so he can focus on football.

“I don’t talk to him,” Villanueva said. “I don’t know anything about my situation. I don’t focus about contracts. I come from very little money in my family. I’ve spent most of my time in the military so I’m institutionalized about the ways I spend my money. My agent will make a decision and let me know. He’s the guy I trusted when I got cut from Philly. He taught me the steps about how to get me back on my feet.

“It’s not a fun process. It’s not something I like to go through,” Villanueva said. “But at the end of the day, there aren’t a lot of exciting things going on in OTAs and you have to write about something. The team is very successful and they’ll make whatever decisions they have to make. From my end I’ve been extremely fortunate where I am. I’ve been to Afghanistan three times. A lot of service members have died next to me protecting my life.

“Being here is a blessing. I’ve won 10 lotteries already. If I get a percentage of the lottery on top it is what it is. If not, it’s something I can live with. I’m not the best at making decisions, but I feel very comfortable making decisions. It’s a process. I’m very thankful to the Steelers and their treatment. They’ve always been very respectful. The only thing I can do is show that respect back.”

Villanueva is in attendance and ready to work. Not much more the Steelers could ask from their starting left tackle, and it likely could be a good pawn to use throughout contract negotiations.