By the sound of things, Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva isn’t quite ready to talk to the local media about his current contract situation as several reports over the course of the last two weeks have him telling those who are looking for an interview that he has to go get his daily lifting done in lieu of answering their questions at the conclusion of practice.
In the grand scheme of things, Villanueva avoiding the media isn’t a huge deal but sooner or later he’ll probably want to do so barring him signing a new contract in the very near future just to get the aggravating process behind him.
Villanueva, who has reportedly yet to sign his one-year, $615,000 exclusive rights tender he received from the Steelers earlier in the offseason, is probably very uncomfortable talking about his contract situation and if that indeed is the case, perhaps he should just go ahead and publicly tell the media that once he finally allows himself to be questioned.
If I were him, I would take the very cliché approach and just tell the media that he’s currently just concerning himself with his preparations for the 2017 season and that he’s letting his agent handle his contract situation, much in the same way he did in his recent interview with Adam Schefter of ESPN on his podcast. From there, he can just continue with the cliché answers to the creative follow-up questions and then say he’s no longer wanting to discuss the topic of his contract. Nobody would hate him for taking that approach.
While Villanueva isn’t talking to the local media about his contract situation, it appears a few of his fellow offensive linemen somewhat are.
“We joke about it here and there, but he’s not a money guy,” fellow Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert said recently, according to Jacob Klinger of pennlive.com. “He just wants to go out there and be his best and obviously with the contract he wants to stick around a lot longer with us, but we feel like it’ll come.
“He’s not worried about it, we’re not worried about it, hopefully his agent is worried about it.”
It’s already understood that Villanueva had to sign an injury waiver prior to being allowed to participate in the team’s OTA practices this year and that’s an admirable decision on his part. While I don’t know for sure, one would think the former Army captain has also taken out some sort of injury protection insurance policy just in case the unthinkable were to happen.
Assuming Villanueva still doesn’t have a new contract in place prior to the start of training camp getting underway, he’ll then have a big decision to make. I doubt seriously, however, that he’d ever consider withholding his services come that time and especially when you consider the history the Steelers organization has of not negotiating contracts with players until they show up for training camp. That history aside, Villanueva doesn’t come off as the kind of player who would ever want to let his teammates down or allow himself to become some sort of distraction.
While the Steelers could certainly sign Villanueva to a new contract at any time moving forward into the offseason, it’s very likely they want to get running back Le’Veon Bell signed to a new deal first. The good news when it comes to that potential order of business is the fact that Bell has a July 15 deadline attached to a potential new contract for him being as he was given the franchise tag earlier in the offseason.
So, will Villanueva continue his media silence for the remainder of the team’s OTAs and mandatory minicamp? We’ll see and even if he does, I won’t think any less of him because business is business and people handle their business in a lot of diverse ways.