One of several roster moves announced on Wednesday by the Ravens included the retirement of left tackle Alejandro Villanueva. The 33-year-old is ending his career after seven seasons.
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The veteran signed a two-year deal worth up to $14MM in Baltimore last offseason. That came after six seasons spent with the Steelers, a span which included back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2017 and 2018. A late starter in terms of his football career due to Army service, he established himself as a durable, consistent blindside protector in Pittsburgh.
He began to show signs of slowing down the later stages of his time with the Steelers, however. That opened up the possibility of him transitioning to right tackle, which was the expectation when he joined the Ravens. Due to Ronnie Stanley‘s ankle injury not healing as expected, though, he required a second straight season-ending surgery. That pushed Villanueva back to his more comfortable position.
Unfortunately, Villanueva was a member of an offensive front which struggled throughout the campaign in Baltimore. He played over 1,200 snaps, as availability wasn’t a concern. However, PFF credits him with 11 penalties committed and nine sacks allowed, leading to an overall grade of 65.2. Despite the other year remaining on his deal, then, many felt his first year in Charm City would be his last.
The news saves the Ravens $6MM in cap space, while leaving $3.25MM on the books in dead money. Stanley is still under contract long-term, and the team has been optimistic about his ability to fully heal in time for the 2022 season. The other tackles currently on the roster are Ja’Wuan James, who missed all of last season with a torn Achilles, and Patrick Mekari, who has emerged as a key utility linemen, filling in as needed at multiple positions.
While the Ravens will move forward looking to add at least some tackle depth either in free agency next week or the draft next month, Villanueva will end a celebrated NFL career that made him one of the most well-respected players in the league.