OTAs are ending, and the Pittsburgh Steelers may be heading to mandatory minicamp without one of their key offensive linemen.
When it comes to Alejandro Villanueva, the Pittsburgh Steelers want to keep him. The former Army Ranger is only 28-years-old but is still dealing with the difficulties of signing a long-term contract with the Steelers.
Despite being the team’s starting left tackle, one of the most prominent positions in football, Villanueva is still waiting for negotiations to work out between his agent and the team. With Pittsburgh having $18.6 million in cap space, it shouldn’t be too much of a struggle to find the right number to keep Villanueva around.
“I’m obviously trying to be a Steeler, but it’s something that my agent and the front office will work to sort out,” Villanueva told reporters during OTAs on Thursday.
It’s time to get this deal done. Le’Veon Bell is the next project, and Stephon Tuitt is after that, but for right now, get a deal with Villanueva done. Without it, who are the Steelers going to start at left tackle?
This team is Super Bowl ready, and missing one piece to the puzzle is going to set them back in a big way. Ben Roethlisberger has already lived through the days of a weak offensive line, and unless this team plans to return to the 15 sack seasons, they need to have a secure tackle protecting Ben’s weak side.
On top of it all, Villanueva wants to be in Pittsburgh. He wouldn’t have signed a waiver just to participate in OTAs if he didn’t. All he’d need to do is jump on the free agency market, and someone somewhere would scoop him up.
“Being part of the Steelers is unbelievable, it’s awesome … but being an employer in the NFL is somewhat challenging,” Villanueva told reporters. “Obviously I don’t have a part or a say in all of the things that go on. I’ve taken orders my whole life, right now I’m working with a really good agent, I’ll do whatever he tells me to do, you guys can ask him questions about my future. I have no really good answers at this point.”
Now, being in the conference room for these negotiations is something only a handful of people know the feeling of. Both parties are hoping for a deal, but no one knows which side is refusing to budge. But, at some point, this deal needs to get done before Pittsburgh is without a tackle and Villanueva is looking for a new home at the end of June.
Maybe Pittsburgh is waiting on Jerald Hawkins to take over after Villanueva leaves, but in 2017, Hawkins is not the guy Pittsburgh wants starting at left tackle. He could be getting in the way of this deal getting done but moving into minicamp, some sort of plan needs to be finalized on Pittsburgh’s part.
The Steelers need to approach this with one thing on their mind; a Super Bowl. 2017 is the year they’re ready to earn number seven. Not having their starting left tackle is definitely going to complicate things as they try to beat out an incredibly talented AFC.
It’s been long enough. Minicamp starts next week. It’s time for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Alejandro Villanueva to get this deal done.