The Ravens have their new right tackle, as they officially signed veteran Alejandro Villanueva to a two-year deal Tuesday.
According to The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec, the deal is worth $14 million. Villanueva is expected to start at right tackle for the Ravens after the trade that sent Orlando Brown Jr. to the Kansas City Chiefs prior to the draft.
Villanueva, 32, is a two-time Pro Bowl selection who has started every game at left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers the past five seasons. He’s long been one of the NFL’s premier pass blockers and he ranked 18th last season in run block win rate.
Villanueva also provides quality depth behind All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who is coming off a season-ending ankle injury in 2020.
Back in Pittsburgh, fans are sad. Back in Philly, fans are puzzled — Eagles once had this guy and let him go!
Signing Villanueva after the draft means he won’t count against the compensatory pick formula, preserving a projected fourth-round selection in next year’s draft. The Ravens reportedly had the veteran in for a visit in the week before the draft, in which Baltimore didn’t select an offensive tackle.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who first broke the news, there were other suitors for Villanueva’s services, including the Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins.
Adding Villanueva continues an offensive line makeover for the Ravens, who signed right guard Kevin Zeitler in March, then drafted Ben Cleveland in the third round over the weekend. The likelihood increased that they would sign a veteran offensive lineman after they did not draft a tackle.
Head Coach John Harbaugh said Tyre Phillips will compete for the right tackle job, but Villanueva gives Baltimore a seasoned veteran as a possible alternative. Villanueva became Pittsburgh’s starting left tackle in 2016 and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2017 and 2018.
There was speculation Villanueva might return to Pittsburgh after he hit free agency. However, the Steelers drafted left tackle Dan Moore Jr. from Texas A&M in the fourth round. Moore was a three-year starter at left tackle for the Aggies, and Pittsburgh is hoping he can start immediately.
Undrafted out of Army in 2010, Villanueva served three tours in Afghanistan and was decorated with a bronze star for valor. He resumed his football career in 2014 when he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as a defensive end. After being waived by the Eagles, Villanueva was signed by the Steelers, where he switched to offensive tackle.
With the 6-foot-9, 320-pound Villanueva, the Ravens now have a ton of size on their possible starting offensive line: left tackle Ronnie Stanley (6-foot-6, 315 pounds), left guard Cleveland (6-6, 357), center Bradley Bozeman (6-5, 325), right guard Zeitler (6-4, 315), and Villanueva.
The American Journey saga of Alejandro Villanueva could probably be made into a blockbuster movie under the right production and direction teams. Hey wait, Jeffrey Lurie makes big movies! Maybe by buying the film rights to Villanueva’s life story, the Eagles and Lurie could say they finally got him…