It is something of a surprise that two-time Pro Bowl Pittsburgh Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva not simply remains unsigned, but has had very little interest so far on the open market. To date, other than Pittsburgh, the only team reported to have shown interest is the Baltimore Ravens, who may be looking for a right tackle to replace Orlando Brown, who is looking to be traded. (Ed Note: Brown has been dealt to the Chiefs)
The team that many expected would target a player like Villanueva this offseason was the Indianapolis Colts, who weathered the surprise retirement of Pro Bowl left tackle Anthony Castonzo. One option they have considered is moving All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson to tackle, but recently, Colts owner Jim Irsay has admitted they would like to avoid that.
“The general feeling is that if you can leave Quenton at guard, that would be the ideal thing”, he said. “My gut feeling is that we’ll find a tackle and Quenton will stay put, but it’s really nice to know that you have that option because there’s no doubt in my mind that he can play that position unquestionably”.
Indianapolis did sign a tackle in free agency in Sam Tevi. He has been the Los Angeles Chargers’ starting left tackle for the past three seasons as a former sixth-round pick, but he’s not somebody that would prevent you from looking to upgrade.
So the question is, would the Colts be interested in Villanueva? The reality is that, even if they are, it almost surely wouldn’t benefit the Steelers, or really anybody at this point. It’s very unlikely that he is signed before the Monday after the upcoming draft, at which point he would no longer be a Compensatory Free Agent, meaning he would not net the team a compensatory draft pick.
Villanueva, who will turn 33 in September, has been the Steelers’ starting left tackle for the better part of the past six seasons, and made the Pro Bowl in 2017 and 2018 after signing a four-year, $24 million contract.
Were it not for the pandemic and the subsequent tanking of the salary cap, I still believe that he would have landed a quite sizeable multi-year deal, but the exceedingly soft market could potentially have him contemplating pursuing something else in life at this point.
Of course, there is still plenty of time between now and September when, you know, the actual football games are played. I expect that he will be signed by somebody—perhaps the Ravens, perhaps the Colts—at some point between May and July, but it will probably be at a compromise, and a bargain.