Devil’s Advocate: Extending Villanueva In 2017

You may recall for the past several offseasons that I ran an article series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take. I used it to explore different issues and topics the Pittsburgh Steelers were facing and took a positive or negative approach, examining each side in a separate article. This is essentially the same idea behind that, only condensed into one article for every topic.

In this version of the idea, I’ll be playing the Devil’s Advocate for both sides of the issue, looking at the best-case and worst-case scenarios in trying to find the range of likely outcomes of what is likely to happen for the Steelers relating to whatever topic the article is covering.

When it comes to the process of trying to construct a championship roster, the reality is that there are a ton of moving parts, and several ways to acquire said parts. There are a lot of things that can go right or wrong in not always predictable ways, so I think it’s helpful to try to look at issues by seeking out the boundaries of the likely positive or negative results.

Topic: Should the Steelers want to do a long-term deal with Alejandro Villanueva this offseason rather than next year?

When it comes to the offensive line, the Steelers believe that they finally have everything in place to not only excel, but perhaps even dominate. They have not simply the personnel on hand but also the coach in place to raise this unit to arguably the best on the team, and among the best offensive lines in all of football.

The final piece fell into place over the course of the last two years when [insert lengthy backstory here] Alejandro Villanueva stepped into the role of left tackle. He has developed significantly over the course of that time, to the point at which the team reportedly desires to wrap him up long-term.

The only problem with that notion is that it makes no fiscal sense for the 2017 season. They can easily have Villanueva for a veteran-minimum salary for a player of two years of accrued experience for this year because he is not in a position to argue for more. For those who lament his financial straits, he gets performance-based bonuses from a league source in excess of a couple hundred thousand extra.

The Steelers could be committing to paying money that they don’t have to. That is the same thing that they did with Antonio Brown in 2012 as he was entering his third year at the end of his rookie contract. But we see how that turned out. He played at a bargain rate for about five years.

That is the upside alternative of attempting to work out a contract now. Perhaps by compensating him early long-term, they can acquire his services at a lower rate of payment. After all, he is still finding his game to a certain degree. He has yet to play a ‘complete’ season, struggling in the early part of the year.

At the risk of spending money now that they don’t have to, the team could save additional money in the future. But perhaps they could simply ‘save’ that money in carrying over the money they would have spent this year into future seasons.

Which side do you lean closer toward?

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