BALTIMORE, Md. — He’s been a mainstay on the enemy’s offensive line for the past six seasons. Now Alejandro Villanueva is trading in that No. 78 in black and yellow for a No. 78 in black and purple.
"I knew the Ravens as a team that plays hard, a team that plays AFC North type football and they get a chance to play the Steelers as well was something that motivated me to come here, for sure," he said Wednesday.
The 32-year-old, two-time pro bowler signed a two-year contract with Baltimore worth a reported $14 million. The former Steeler is now a Raven. He's switching sides in the NFL's best rivalry.
"The Ravens, a great organization that has been respected across the NFL and especially from the Steelers’ building, it wasn’t really a tough decision," said Villanueva.
The 6-9, 320-pound left tackle has played in 96 consecutive games. He’ll now swing to the right side as Orlando Brown Jr.'s replacement. Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley is expected to return from the ankle injury that ended his 2020 season.
Villanueva goes from worst rushing team to the best and from a team that completed a league-high 428 passes to a team that caught a league-low 257.
"The transition is going to be more to the playbook of the Ravens than it is going to be from left tackle to right tackle because so many of the plays are so different."
So is the quarterback he now protects: Lamar Jackson.
"There are certain players in the NFL that truly inspire you to get the best out of you because you see how rare the talent is. I don’t think there’s a doubt in anyone’s minds that when you see Lamar Jackson play you want to do everything for him, protect him and continue to see the magic that he displays on the field," said Villanueva.
Being one of the best tackles in the business isn’t even close to Villanueva’s most distinguished accomplishments. He is a retired Army Captain, serving three tours in Afghanistan. He has received numerous honors for his military service.