For a towering giant of a man who is also a decorated war veteran, Pittsburgh Steelers third-year left tackle Alejandro Villanueva is quite the unassuming sort, uninterested in drawing attention to himself or away from others. Nor is he interested in getting bogged down in business. He just wants to get to work.
That was his approach this offseason to his contract status, based on a conversation that he had with Chris Adamski yesterday during the first day of practices at training camp. He basically left it all up to his agent and instructed him to take a deal once he feels the team is giving him one that is fair.
“So I had an agent”, Villanueva told Adamski, “and I said to him, ‘listen, whenever you think my employment status is fair, then you let me know, and then we go from there. If you don’t think it’s fair, then we will make different decisions’”.
The Steelers’ front office and Villanueva’s agent ultimately agreed upon a “fair” deal that worked out to $24 million over the course of the next four seasons, although it is worth noting that he will be getting $14 million of that over the course of the first two years, which puts him in better position for a cashflow increase toward the end of his deal with a new extension.
He said that as soon as his agent told him that they had given him a contract he considered fair, “that’s all I needed”. What he didn’t say was whether or not his agent was interested in pushing for more for his client, although that is a logical assumption, given that that is what agents do.
“I didn’t want to break the bank”, Villanueva said. “I didn’t want to be compared to the top left tackles who signed a deal recently. I couldn’t sort of conceive a situation where I would hold out to get more money. It was more, ‘if the situation is fair, then I will be here’”.
Not that it was not already apparent, but his comments clearly reflect somebody who approaches the game and the business of football from more of the common man’s perspective, and this is frankly not the first time that he has talked about his interests lying elsewhere than the potential to maximize his potential earnings.
As I talked about yesterday, Villanueva always seemed to be visibly uncomfortable whenever he was confronted with the prospect of addressing his contract status, because it’s simply a situation that goes so against his character. He is not somebody who is about himself, or about getting everything that he can possibly get.
I do think that Villanueva could have gotten more if that were his angle, although averaging $7 million over the course of the first two years of the deal is notable. While he did not have a lot of leverage, he clearly had enough to get a contract signed, and the Steelers didn’t just do that to be nice, or to reward him. They did it because it was in their best interests.