Contract Extension Likely On Tap For Steelers T Alejandro Villanueva


The Pittsburgh Steelers have been busy re-signing several of their exclusive rights free agents this offseason but with that said, tackle Alejandro Villanueva apparently hasn’t signed his offered one-year tender. Whether he has or hasn’t signed that speculated given tender yet really isn’t a big deal as that will ultimately need to happen if he wants to play in 2017. That is, however, unless he signs a more lucrative contract extension instead.

According to a Thursday story by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it appears as though the Steelers are indeed attempting to sign Villanueva long-term this offseason even though they technically can have him very cheap for the next two seasons. In short, the Steelers have quite a bit of leverage right now when it comes to Villanueva and thus it would make sense for the two sides to work out some sort of fair long-term deal in the coming weeks.

While Villanueva isn’t currently considered by many to be one of the top 10 left tackles in the NFL, there’s no denying that his play has gotten increasingly better over the course of the 31 total games that he’s started dating back to Week 7 of the 2016 regular season. He’s also currently just 28 years old and when combined with the fact that his NFL career essentially started in 2015, he figures to have at least three of four good seasons left in him.

Assuming the Steelers do indeed want to extend Villanueva during the offseason, one then needs to figure out what kind of deal would be fair for both sides. Additionally, it might be worth noting that fellow Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert currently averages $6 million a season as a result of the extension he signed in 2014.

Would Villanueva entertain a three-year, $15 million deal this offseason and one that would likely put around $6 million in his pocket when he signs, and roughly $10.5 million after two seasons?


In case you’re curious, the Steelers could give Villanueva $6 million in 2017 and if $5 million of that were paid to him as a signing bonus, his salary cap charge this season would be almost $2.7 million. To help absorb that this season, the Steelers could part ways with veteran tackle Ryan Harris, who is scheduled to earn a base salary of $1.9 million in 2017. Even if the Steelers wanted to pay Villanueva the same average as Gilbert, they could probably do so with his 2017 cap charge only being roughly $3 million.

While Villanueva would still be one of the lowest paid starting left tackles in the league at that point, he’d still earn a lot more than he would if tendered as an exclusive rights free agent this offseason and a restricted free agent a year from now. Signing a new three-year contract now would also potentially set Villanueva up to cash in one final time in 2020 at the age of 31.

We’ll have to wait and see how things ultimately wind up playing out with Villanueva in the coming weeks and months but it won’t be surprising to see the team work out a long-term deal with him well prior to the start of training camp as it makes sense for both sides to do just that.

  • tequila0341

    Like this. Lock up your good players up quick. Provides them with security and peace of mind, and gives the a team a solid bargain if/when they continue to improve. Worked beautifully with AB.

  • PaeperCup

    Yes please. Big Al has fast become one of my favorite players and people.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Man, this is a really tough call. I’m generally automatically in favor of giving a guy who has the attributes and potential of AV, a long term deal. Not only to lock him up. But also to satiate him and show him some love.

    Speaking of love, I too have fallen in love with Villy. What a guy. What a patriot. What a player. As this team sits here right now, I can easily say Villy is in my top 10 favorite players on this current team.

    HOWEVER… we do have a ton of leverage. And it would be really great if we could get on by paying him scraps once again and throwing money all around the team, in order to solidify a championship roster. Then, come next year, we give him a nice, fat, long deal, and with that, we can likely lock him up for enough of a length of time, that his last contract, if we gave him one at around age 33/34 would only need to be a backup type of price. Signing him to a new 4 year-ish deal now, likely means his next may still cost us a chunk as he would only be 31/32 by the time it comes up again.

    Unlike many on here, I firmly believe that we are going to be the most talented AFC team going into the season next year. It will be OUR CONFERENCE to lose. I don’t want to hear about how NE will or could be a more talented team than us. I don’t buy it. I hardly buy they were, on paper, a more talented team than we were LAST YEAR. That being said, it makes paying Villy this year a tough call. Because honestly, I think this guy deserves a new deal and to be paid fairly, almost more than anyone else, based on what he has played for.

    And lastly, and here’s a rub… if he plays really well again this year, his price tag will go up even further when we come around to pay the man. So given that, I say lock him up! Lock him up! Lock him up! Lol. He deserves it and I’m sure Khan can find the money to pay him and everyone else this season. This is the year to spend all that money on our own guys. Guys who have been loyal and who love being a Steeler already. If the guys in the locker room feel anywhere close to how Steeler Nation feels, he is a favorite for sure. Pay him and show him the love.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    This would be a very smart signing. Villanueva is improving game by game. If we wait another year his value will likely be out of our range. $5 million x 3 years is a huge score for the Steelers. And A.V. deserves it.

  • Steelers12

    smart move

  • tequila0341

    I hear what you’re saying regarding the leverage the Steelers have. They don’t have to pay him big money for two years.

    But Villanueva is a guy who is going to a top level business school in the offseason. He’s someone who clearly is thinking about supporting his family for the long term. If you’re going to basically pay him minimum NFL wages for the next two years, he just might retire and go find a real job in business rather than take the head trauma and injury risk.

  • NinjaMountie

    I agree and I was wondering if they would make this move this offseason. It just makes too much sense for both player and team. The Steelers are locking up an “at least” serviceable LT for peanuts and AV isn’t risking his future for peanuts. Should he injure himself he’s out millions. He’s a smart guy, I’m certain he knows this and will sign a reasonable contract.

  • steelburg

    I don’t like the move of paying him right now. This year he has to sign the exclusive rights deal if he wants to play. So we can still have him for cheap. Next year we slap the highest tender on him, that way we can decide to match the deal id offeres by another team or we could move on and we get a second round pick back. We could potentially have him for 2 more years and still pay the guy pennies.

  • NinjaMountie

    Imagine he becomes a top 10 LT. Then you’re stuck paying him like one if you want to keep him. So, you could save money in the long run by signing him now…probably a lot. It’s one of those GM judgment calls, lol.

  • steelburg

    If he does retire he won’t go and make 960,000 in 2 years like he did these past 2 years. And he won’t make 615,000 next year working a business job. He will be a newbie in that field and he won’t come close to making 615,000. I wouldn’t pay him until I had to.

  • falconsaftey43

    I imagine they’ll work out an extension that’ll pay him like he would the next 4 years in total if they strung him along with the tenders and then got a deal in 2 years. Advantage for him is he gets the bonus money up front. Advantage for Steelers is they ensure they get him those other 2 years at a price they can deal with, instead of risking he really ascends the next two years and demands top LT money.

  • steelburg

    In 2 years he will be 30. The only reason I would resign him right now is to basically force him into a bad deal. I would give him like 3 years 6 million. The team has all the leverage and they could just bring a younger Beacham back if they wanted to.

  • NinjaMountie

    I don’t agree with the Beach idea but I understand where you are coming from. I also agree that they have extreme leverage right now which is kinda my point.
    If he’s a top 10 LT in 2 years and remained injury free, someone will pay him and he’ll be gone if we don’t pay him. Spend a tiny bit more now and save a lot later and retain someone you think highly off….I like that idea.
    If it was a bank breaking contract I’d say now way…run his wheels off and send him down the road. That’s kinda where I am on Bell.

  • steelburg

    If he does ascend and they don’t want to pay him take the 2nd round pick and move on that’s how I feel about it. I have so much confidence in Mike Munchak he could probably take a soda can and make it a starting NFL lineman.

  • capehouse

    This didn’t make much sense to me at first. Like why would the Steelers just give money away a year early when there’s no need to? If you read the story there is a precedent, and I like the example Ed uses of Parker’s situation when in 2005 helped lead the Steelers to a SB 40 win and 1,200 yards during the season. He was an exclusive rights free agent just like Villanueva and the Steelers rewarded him with a 4 year $13.6 mil contract. I guess the precedent is the Steelers see a severely underpaid player and want to reward him. Nothing else really makes sense.

  • mokhkw

    This.

    He’s a multi-talented high profile guy who could easily decide to retire and make more $s elsewhere. Signing him to a decent contract now makes a ton of sense imo.

  • steelburg

    I dont mind talking with his campaign and seeing what kind of money he wants. But what kinda of deal did you have in mind? Like I told someone below if he does eventually leave because we strung him along we would get a 2nd round pick back, and I have so much confidence in Mike Munchak he could probably take a soda can and make it into a starting NFL Lineman.

  • mokhkw

    I believe he could, there are plenty of Fortune 500 companies who would pay just to have him on their staff with the public profile that he currently has. He’s going to attract clients with a military background more than any other current person would imo.

  • NinjaMountie

    I think the deal in the article sounds fair. We’re talking a couple mill more against the cap than he would be making. As stated, that’s absorbed pretty easily.

  • Brian Tollini

    Pay that Man!

  • Donte Williams

    also dont forget if we let Ryan go that helps the hit as well

  • RickM

    AV wins over the next two years with more than he could get; the team wins in Year 3 and 4 with him likely to get more in FA. It seems like a win-win deal. If they don’t do it, AV may not be the happiest player in 2017 and 2018.

  • TroymanianDevil

    I remember being unsure when Gilbert signed his extension ( solely on the numbers not play). But look at how awesome that turned out. I’m in a similar boat here but I totally see the value of trying to do it now. And based on Gilbert, it could be total steal given how much LTs get paid. So I say let’s have those talks for sure and see what happens.

    I feel like a 4/16mil extension would work, That’s almost like a 3/15mil extension b/c we could’ve just paid him pennies in 2018. Gives him money upfront and long term security at an awesome price. He could obviously get more but given the fact that he fought in the Army and literally killed terrorists makes me think he won’t stretch for every possible dollar. And it keeps him on our team, which is just so cool imo.
    We’d have a real badass on our team, who could literally kill you if he wanted at any moment. ( but not aaron hernandez style, but Rambo/badass style )

    Btw, I’d like to take this moment to salute Mike Munchak for being the GOAT OL coach.

  • HiVul

    Thats extremely unlikely. If the only thing the Steelers have to worry about is that a Fortune 500 company might pay him over a million dollars a year fresh out of school and with no experience, then we have nothing to worry about.

  • TroymanianDevil

    I’d agree with you general.
    But AV is a Army Ranger badass so I’m ok with giving him money. Screw NE for using players and then throwing out to street like garbage ( sorry still pissed that ATL collapsed, but I do believe the statement about NE)

    Plus in this case, taking emotion out, I think keeping everyone is better, Ben’s window is who knows. I had originally pegged 2-3 years and I’m still hoping for it but its clearly uncertain. And I don’t want to risk a developing LT for these last years. Regardless if he have the Michael Jordan of OL coaches ( which we do )

  • TroymanianDevil

    That’s what I’m thinking. A 4 year deal now is basically like a 2 year deal at that price minus like 2 million worth of tenders

  • PaeperCup

    Yeah, he might not make more money, but he can live a healthier lifestyle. He seems like the type of guy that would be completely content making triple digits instead of millions, if he enjoyed what he was doing and could do it for the long term.

  • nikgreene

    AV is a bit older, so I think you have to tread lightly. I know he is only technically in his third season, but it’s not like his previous occupation didn’t take some toll on his body at all. Will he play at a high level when he is 30? Is it possible he has already reached his ceiling? I don’t know the answer, but there seems to be enough uncertainty that I would only sign him to an extension if it was cheap, cheaper than the contract suggested by Dave, especially when you’re practically guaranteed to keep him under team control for the next two seasons.

    A bigger question is how all these extensions and new contracts will affect the Steelers pursuit of outside free agents. If they do sign Tuitt, Bell, Brown, Villanueva, Harrison, Timmons, can they sign anybody else to more than a veteran minimum contract? I’m not suggesting it is wise to sign outside free agents, but the team seems to have there hands full with their own guys at the moment.

  • mokhkw

    Football won’t last forever, if given the choice between playing for 600k for 2 seasons and risking a career ending injury or getting 300k every year for the next decade with the added job security which way would a young family man lean?

    AV is far from your average school leaver btw, he’s relatively famous and has a high profile thanks to his appearance on adverts. A F500 company would pay him based on that alone.

  • Petherson Silveira

    Look. Treat him like a rookie. For exemple, Bell play at a high level for four years with a rookie contract. I think we could take care of AV contract, but not as hefty as you suggest.
    Give him a 4 year Deal like a second round rookie or something like this:
    2017: 2 mi – all garanteed
    2018: 2 mi – all garanteed
    2019: 5 mi – all garanteed
    2020: 5 mi – not garanteed

  • mokhkw

    Sean Davis signed a four year contract worth $4.086 million with the Steelers. Davis received a $1.17 million signing bonus and $2.13 million in guarantees as the 2nd Rd Pick last year.

  • SteelersDepot

    Not going to happen like that.

  • Petherson Silveira

    Why not Dave? Do you think that isn´t fair to him?
    I think we aren´t obligate to pay him more than his tender. But by paying more than the tender, we are help him and his family.

  • SouthernSteel

    Don’t forget about the NFL pension also…it’s pretty Damn good…I wouldn’t pay more than 2 mill a year

  • HiVul

    I just think that you’re putting far too much stock into those USAA ads and a relatively short NFL career.

    He stands to lose out on his first and maybe only big contract in a couple years if he walks now. I don’t see that happening, but you never know who the next Chris Borland will be

  • I’d be happy to see them do this. Even if he is making more money than he would have this year, there is no need to short change a guy protecting Ben’s blind side. Look at what these guys get paid around the league. Plus, the guy is a veteran for crying out loud, no problem with helping out a man like that and securing his family’s future. I think they’re doing the right thing by looking at an extension for him.

  • SteelersDepot

    He would be silly to sign a deal like that that would lock him up for 4 years and result in just slightly higher earnings over next two years then he would get on two tenders.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    I like it but for four years, not three. Three years for $15m is in essence a third year salary of $12m, no? Sign him to four for $20m

  • LucasY59

    I think its a smart move for both sides, I didnt expect a long term contract till next yr, but can understand doing it earlier (and doing so benefits the player and the team, player gets paid more now and the team gets a discount over what they would have to pay later)

    Villanueva was getting a performance bonus for getting starter snaps while signed to a rookie minimum deal, but it was still much less than he deserved, I like that the team is willing to reward him for outperforming his paycheck, and I think AV will also give the team a break since they are paying him more than they have to, I think the contract details that Dave suggested could end up being very close to what the actual deal would look like, maybe 4 yrs instead of 3, but whatever it is, it makes the O-line stay the same while Ben is on the team, which is a very good idea

  • Petherson Silveira

    And if we pay him 3 mi, 3mi, 6mi, 6mi with 12mi garanteed? Do you still think that isn´t good for him?
    I think it would be a lot more money upfront and an insurance policy if he gets hurt.
    He should consider the chance he gets hurt while playing with those 2 tenders and it turns out that he wouldn´t get paied here or elsewhere coz he is already 30 years olds with a injury concern.
    Don´t forget that he is playing now coz Beachum didn´t accept a good (not great) salary and got hurt. Then Beachum signed very chip with a really bad team and got released again instead of having his option took.