The Pittsburgh Steelers started their 2017 OTA sessions on Tuesday and they did so with starting left tackle Alejandro Villanueva having yet to sign his exclusive rights tender he was issued prior to the start of the new league year in March.
During a recent interview with Adam Schefter of ESPN on his podcast, Villanueva was asked about him not yet signing his one-year tender and if he thinks he’ll ultimately sign a long-term extension at some point between now and the start of the regular season.
“I have no idea,” Villanueva said. “I think the only certain things in lives are death and taxes and that’s kind of where I’m contemplated right now in terms of the different paths of the business side of the NFL are maybe a little more complex for somebody who has managed expectations, especially if you come from a military background. So, I’m not sure, I really don’t know what’s in the future for me from that aspect.”
If Villanueva wants to play in 2017 he’ll either need to sign his one-year, $615,000 exclusive rights tender or a long-term extension. With that said, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette continues to report that Villanueva has had contract talks with the Steelers during the offseason.
While a new long-term extension this offseason for Villanueva is far from guaranteed to happen at this point, I will be surprised if he ultimately doesn’t sign one before the start of the 2017 regular season as just makes too much sense for both sides to get a fair deal done now instead of next offseason when the former Army captain will be a restricted free agent and perhaps be even more expensive than he is now come that time.
While Villanueva might indeed be uncertain about his future contract situation, he does know all about what it’s like to block for running back Le’Veon Bell, who is currently regarded as having the most patient running style in the NFL.
“He’s a very good player,” Villanueva said of Bell. “That’s honestly the only way to describe him. He’s a very gifted athlete and he can catch the ball. Linebackers hate to cover Le’Veon regardless of whether he’s coming through the middle, or on a boot, or on assigned wheel route. I got here after he got here. I only followed instructions from Coach Munchak in terms of how to block the play.
“My head’s looking at the defender and assuming he’s in the backfield and doing his thing. So, I don’t know if it’s an attitude that maybe the offensive line has in terms of how to block, or if it’s us adjusting to Le’Veon, but it seems to work and it’s fun to block for him.”
You can listen to Villanueva’s full interview with Schefter below.