While most of the attention is around Pittsburgh getting a deal done with the franchise-tagged Le'Veon Bell, Steelers teammates are keen on reminding everyone, including management, that offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva needs to be extended by the July 17th deadline.
was the most recent Steeler to speak up for keeping "Big Al" in Pittsburgh:
Right now the Steelers have exclusive rights to a contract with Villanueva. If they don't sign him to a new deal by July 17th, they'll be competing for him on the open market next spring.
His current tender is for $615,000 this season, which is one of the lowest salaries on the team. On the open free agent market, he's probably worth at least five or six million. At least.
Villanueva is undoubtedly looking for a substantial raise, and he deserves it too.
The Pittsburgh Steelers originally signed Villanueva to a two-year, $960,000 contract in January, 2015. The 28-year-old 6'8, 320-lb tackle has played in every game for Pittsburgh since, starting 26 out of 36 games.
Villanueva does his job well, making the time and space for Roethlisberger and Bell do their jobs and make the highlight reels. What can't be understated here is that Villanueva and Bell work well together, practice together, and the success both players have seen in Pittsburgh is a direct result of that.
Other Steelers teammates who have been vocal about keeping Villanueva around include RT Marcus Gilbert, who said to Jacob Klinger of PennLive.com this spring: "[Villanueva]'s not a money guy. He just wants to go out there and be his best and obviously with the contract he wants to stick around a lot longer with us, but we feel like it'll come. I just hope he goes out there and keeps getting better because he can be that Pro Bowl left tackle."
Villanueva himself has stayed quiet while taking part in the Steelers' OTAs and Mini-camp. When he did speak to the issue all he had to say was this: "I'm obviously trying to be a Steeler, but it's something my agent and the Steelers will have to sort out."
It looks like he'll be getting some help from his teammates, too.
Hopefully by July 17th, the public will be celebrating whatever monstrous contract Le'Veon Bell manages to sign, and the guys in the Steelers locker room will be celebrating a more humble, but no less important, deal with "Big Al" Villanueva.
Source: Dan Sager - SBNation · Photo Credit: KEYSTONE PRESS