Ravens ‘likely’ to move on from Alejandro Villanueva this offseason

Ravens, Alejandro Villanueva (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Ravens, Alejandro Villanueva (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens will be looking to give Lamar Jackson the best possible offensive line in 2022. That unit probably won’t include right tackle Alejandro Villanueva.

Villanueva played 97 percent of offensive snaps this season, in part due to a banged-up offensive line unit that was badly missing Ronnie Stanley.

Stanley should recover for next season, and the offensive line could also see an upgrade in the anticipated return/debut of Ja’Wuan James, but neither of those options give the team a high degree of confidence.

Stanley has gone through two major ankle surgeries in the past year, and James has suffered his share of unexpected season-ending injuries (James hasn’t played a game since 2019).

As the Ravens prepare their backup plans, and their backup to the backup plans, they may be more than willing to part with current right tackle Alejandro Villanueva.

The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec wrote about the Ravens’ top needs for next season and said “it seems likely that Villanueva will move on,” whether via retirement or release.

2021 was Villanueva’s first season in Baltimore after spending six years in Pittsburgh, and it was also expected to be his first time playing right tackle (he played on the left side for the Steelers) before Stanley’s injury forced him to switch sides.

The Ravens may part ways with Alejandro Villanueva this offseason

The offensive line will need reliable reinforcements to avoid yet another dire shortage of offensive tackles in 2022, and unfortunately, Villanueva hasn’t proven he deserves a rotational role, much less a starting role.

The Ravens will already be eyeing a Day 1 starting tackle in the 2022 NFL Draft as the team attempts to rejuvenate its aging offensive line.

Villanueva plugged in when the team needed him most, but one of Baltimore’s primary objectives for next year will be giving Lamar Jackson higher quality pass protection.

That starts with getting rid of the old and adding the new, whichever young, developmental tackle the Ravens end up picking.

The Ravens have re-signed Patrick Mekari to a three-year contract extension in a sneaky good move to add depth to the roster, but given the team’s streak of bad luck in 2021, they could use extra insurance.

Offloading Villanueva would free about $6 million of much-needed cap space for Baltimore, allowing them to potentially add a veteran stopgap tackle in free agency.

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The loss of Villanueva doesn’t hurt the Ravens too much since they were planning to rebuild at offensive tackle position anyway. He did his job in 2021, just not well enough.