A little over a month ago, I weighed in on the Alejandro Villanueva contract situation with the Pittsburgh Steelers and proposed the argument that whatever contract that he ultimately signs could come in higher, perhaps even significantly higher, than the majority of commenters had been suggesting. Over the course of the summer, there were some who were unwilling to go any higher than $4 million per season.
The contract that the third-year veteran ended up signing fell somewhere in between, as I put the range in the ballpark of $8 million, writing, “I would be very surprised if it’s more than a million and a half less per year”.
Well, color me surprised, because he ended up signing a contract that is two million less per year, inking a four-year, $24 million deal that will pay him an average of $6 million per season, though he will reportedly get $14 million over the course of the first two seasons.
One thing I will say is that it will be interesting to see how low the figure is for the fourth year of that contract, because if Villanueva continues to play as he has shown that he can, it’s pretty reasonable that he will be due for a contract extension three years from now, which would essentially make the final year on that contract irrelevant.
Still, I was off, but I believe I was off not because Villanueva couldn’t make more if he wanted to push for more. I just think that it was more important for him to get the contract completed and to create that security for himself and his family and avoiding distractions than it was for him to try to maximize his potential earnings.
That just seems to be the sort of person that he is, as should be no surprise. The Army Ranger was visibly uncomfortable with his contract situation through the spring. For most of OTAs, Villanueva declined all interview requests with the obviously transparent excuse that he had to maintain a lifting regimen.
This became something of a joke for teammates who would be an earshot of him when he told this to a reporter, but he did eventually talk to the media and was very open and upfront about the whole situation.
He realizes that money isn’t everything, and lining up next to Ramon Foster doesn’t hurt in that thinking. Foster once said something along the lines that at a point after a certain number of millions of dollars, there really isn’t that much difference.
It is notable that Foster has signed not one but two free agent contracts with the Steelers, and at neither time did he ever actually hit the open market.
It is my belief that the Steelers got a bargain for Villanueva on his current contract. He is the lowest-paid of all veteran left tackles (those on a second contract) in the league, and at $6 million per season, he is only tied for 32nd among all tackle contracts in the league.