The Pittsburgh Steelers still have six players remaining who are unrestricted free agents for another couple of weeks. Provided teams don’t sign them between now and the first Monday following the 2021 NFL Draft, after which point they will lose their compensatory free agent status.
At this point, the vast majority of signings have already taken place. But there is always a significant wave that comes after the draft. A wave fueled by teams letting go of players they don’t need while others look to fill remaining roster holes.
Of the available veterans who are still out there, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva is among the best remaining. This according to Gregg Rosenthal and NFL.com’s Top 101 Free Agents List. Villanueva was 74th on the original list, but 63 ahead of him have signed with teams. He’s now the 11th-best remaining free agent, based on their list.
NFL.com lists Villanueva as the fourth-best offensive lineman and third-best tackle, behind both of the Kansas City Chiefs’ former starters, Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher. K.C. released both earlier this offseason as they recover from injuries, and as a salary cap reduction.
Yet another former Chiefs offensive lineman, center Austin Reiter, is also on the list ahead of Villanueva. Both Reiter and Schwartz were originally with the Cleveland Browns. Kansas City obviously has lost a lot up front, though so have the Steelers.
While Villanueva is among the best remaining free agents, there are those who continue to believe that he will ultimately find his way back to Pittsburgh. As always, it could simply come down to price, and may wind up as a one-year deal with void years.
John Clayton appeared on 93.7 The Fan earlier this week to talk Steelers, and he reiterated his belief that the former Pro Bowler ends up returning — in large part simply because there hasn’t been any market, even from likely suitors such as the Indianapolis Colts.
As the roster is currently formulated, the starting tackles for this season are shaping up to be Chukwuma Okorafor, likely at left tackle, and Zach Banner. Banner beat out Okorafor to start at right tackle last season, but suffered a torn ACL in the season opener. The latter started for the rest of the season.
The Steelers added a couple of tackle-capable offensive linemen via free agency, signing Joe Haeg and Rashaad Coward. But at least at this point, neither should be viewed as realistic options to be full-time starters.