Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Steelers are trying to sign LT Alejandro Villanueva to a long-term contract, rather than bring him back on a one-year, exclusive rights contract.
The Steelers have already re-signed a number of exclusive rights free agents this offsason including Chris Boswell, DeMarcus Ayers, Cobi Hamilton, Xavier Grimble, Rosie Nix, Jordan Dangerfield, Fitz Toussaint and Anthony Chickillo.
However, Bouchette mentions that the Steelers are trying to lock up Villanueva and view him as their long-term starter at left tackle.
Bouchette doesn’t expect Pittsburgh to make Villanueva one of the highest-paid left tackles in the league, which would cost them at least $10 million per year. Even so, he could still secure a decent pay raise moving forward if the two sides are able to reach an agreement this offseason.
Villanueva, 28, wound up signing on with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent out of Army back in 2015. He was waived during the preseason and later signed to the Steelers’ practice squad at the start of the season.
Pittsburgh brought Villanueva back on a future/reserve last year and he’s now in line to be an exclusive rights free agent.
In 2016, Villanueva appeared in all 16 games for the Steelers and was rated by Pro Football Focus as the No. 24 offensive tackle out of 78 qualifying players.