Headline I admit caught me by surprise. The Beaver County Times Chris Bradford had an OTA wrap up article yesterday donning the headline, “Steelers Takeaways: Expect Alejandro Villanueva to hold out, but not for long.”
Though Alejandro Villanueva has remained non-committal, it’s the first I’ve heard someone think Villanueva will miss minicamp, slated for next week. Bradford does good work and certainly isn’t a hot-take beat-writer so you can be sure it’s a nuanced, informed though. And as the title notes, he says any holdout wouldn’t last long. He writes:
“The Alejandro Villanueva contract saga figures to heat up next week when the left tackle will either participate in mini-camp or will begin a contract holdout. If I were a betting man, and I’m not, I might wager on the latter happening.”
Villanueva is reportedly in long-term contract talks with the team about an extension. Yet to sign his meager ERFA tender, it’s obvious he’s underpaid, but it sounds like the Steelers are showing good faith in looking to get a deal done. That would make a holdout all the more unusual if both sides are actively working to an agreement.
Of course, because Villanueva hasn’t even signed his tender, he’s assuming risk by participating in practice without a contract, choosing to sign an injury waiver instead. And he admitted he showed up to OTAs to earn all the reps he could, to get better at a position he says you are never fully comfortable at. As our Matthew Marczi transcribed him saying.
“I can’t come out here and say I am ready and prepared. I have a lot of coaching to get. I have to be able to continue to improve as a player…It’s a matter of what I need as a player and then all of the other decisions will sort themselves out.”
Sitting at home certainly won’t help with that. Bradford could be right, I’m writing about it precisely because I might be wrong and wanted to show a different viewpoint, but I’d still be surprised to see him miss any time. Minicamp lasts only three days. After that, there’s plenty of time to focus on his contract and get a deal worked out.
Hines Ward once held out of training camp and came to regret it. I think Villanueva would feel similarly, even if it’s *just* minicamp. We’ll know what he decides to do early next week.