I’m writing this partially in response to what our Matthew Marczi wrote earlier in the week and partially due to the general chatter about the topic over the last couple, prompting Marczi’s article. Matthew left it open-ended but I bet I know what his answer is. And what all of your answers should be.
No. No. No. It has no bearing.
Saying Hawkins affects Villanueva’s situation is like saying James Conner is changing the dynamic for Le’Veon Bell’s long term deal. It’s just silly. There’s little question the team is high on Hawkins. He had an excellent camp as a rookie before hurting his shoulder but the sample size is so small, it’s asinine to use it as justification or to have enough confidence.
Banking on Hawkins is like guessing the person in Clue once you eliminate all the people with brown eyes. Dumb.
Pittsburgh knows as well as anyone the importance of offensive line depth, a new luxury for this team. Hawkins and Villanueva can both exist on this team; Hawkins still has two years after this season on his cheap rookie deal. Finding a left tackle is hard and the team has a good one. There’s no reason to let one like Villanueva risk getting away. There’s too much risk in trusting Ben Roethlisberger’s blindside to such an unknown. This is Roethlisberger’s twilight. Don’t end it with a revolving door on the line’s most critical position.
It’s not as if Villanueva is coming off injury like his predecessor Kelvin Beachum or he’s asking for over-the-moon money. The Steelers should get him for below-market value, around an average of $5 million per season. There’s no overthinking it. Ink Villanueva to a long-term deal, sit back, and watch your franchise QB have all day to throw the some of the league’s best weapons.
Hawkins has upside. Maybe one day, he’ll start.
But not this year. Not next year.
That’s the way it should be. Case closed.