PITTSBURGH -- Did we land on return or no return with Alejandro Villanueva and the Pittsburgh Steelers?
At this point, the Steelers have surprised fans for better and worse during NFL free agency. From re-signing JuJu Smith-Schuster and Vince Williams to letting Mike Hilton and Steven Nelson walk, the Steelers have ridden the roller coaster of a COVID-impacted market for weeks.
But still, there remains a looming question; what's happening with Villanueva?
Right now, this is what we know: the Steelers haven't touched the left tackle position. They've re-signed Zach Banner and added Joe Haeg to the roster. Currently, their three tackles are Banner, Haeg and Chuks Okorafor - none of which have much of any left tackle experience in the NFL.
NFL reporter John Clayton said on 93.7 The Fan that he expects Villanueva to return to Pittsburgh.
In March, The Athletic's Ed Bouchette told The Fan that Villanueva has his home in Pittsburgh up for sale, but the Steelers told him to wait.
"I haven't written this because I haven't gotten it confirmed," Bouchette said. "It was told to me by one person that I have reason to believe knows it so I'm just going to throw this out, that [Villanueva] supposedly had his house up for sale and was going to leave and the Steelers went to him and said, 'eh. not so fast there' and pulled the for sale sign down."
But no deal has been signed. Frankly, when Villanueva hit the open market, many believed he would earn a decent payday. That has drastically changed, as Clayton says no other team has called.
"He hasn't left because he hasn't had any offers to go any place. Or, at least, we don't know of any," Clayton said.
According to Over The Cap, the Steelers have roughly $10 million in available cap space to work with. They'll need roughly $4-6 million for their rookies, leaving any possible free agent signing with a much lower salary than the $23 million a year top-paid Trent Williams signed for this offseason.
All signs point to a return, but actions say otherwise. The Steelers have already bulked up their tackle position with backups. Maybe they believe Villanueva is coming back to be a starter, but his performance last season leaves some concern on that decision.
However, at the end of the day, no one really saw Vince Williams coming back, and weren't that surprised when it happened.