After seven NFL seasons and a stint in the military, offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva announced his retirement on Wednesday.
While playing left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Villanueva, 33, made it to two Pro Bowls and shielded quarterback Ben Roethlisberger from the right side of the field for six years. Villanueva, on the other hand, decided to hang up his cleats after just one season in Baltimore. Due to his inability to successfully fill in for the injured All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley in 2017, the team allowed an NFL-worst 17 sacks.
Three days after the draught, Baltimore signed Villanueva to a two-year, $14 million contract (including $8 million in guaranteed money). Villanueva was brought in to replace Orlando Brown Jr., who was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, as the Ravens’ starting right tackle. Because of a left ankle injury, Stanley’s season was gone in Week 1 and Villanueva was forced to fill in for him.
Last year, Villanueva competed well in the run game, finishing ninth among offensive tackles in the run block victory rate (78.2 percent). However, with an 86.9% pass block victory percentage, he had fallen behind in pass protection (45th among tackles). In 2021, he allowed the most sacks of any player in the league with three.
Before the announcement of Villanueva, Baltimore had voiced confidence in Stanley’s ability to regain his previous form at left tackle this season. When asked about how Stanley was progressing at the NFL Scouting Combine, Raven’s general manager Eric DeCosta stated he was better than the previous year.
During his time in the Army, Villanueva saw action in Afghanistan twice as a member of the U.S. Army Ranger Regiment. Before making his NFL debut, he served in the 10th Mountain and 75th Ranger Regiments of the U.S. Army.
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Both Villanueva and veteran cornerback Tavon Young were dismissed by the Ravens after six seasons together in Baltimore because of the cornerback’s health issues. Cap space was produced by these two moves totaling $11.8 million.
Despite being a valuable contributor while on the field, Young, the team’s fourth-round choice in 2016, has missed 47 games in the last five seasons.
The Ravens’ need at cornerback has only grown. Baltimore’s other cornerbacks — Iman Marshall, Kevon Seymour, Robert Jackson, and Kevin Toliver — have a total of 10 career starts between them and Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters.