Ravens Place Alejandro Villanueva on Reserve/Retired List

OT Alejandro Villanueva runs out to the field before going against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD on Sunday, January 9, 2021.

Alejandro Villanueva's first year with Baltimore became his final NFL season.

The 33-year-old Villanueva has ended his seven-year NFL career and been placed on the Ravens' reserve/retirement list. The move saves the Ravens $6 million in salary cap space, per overthecap.com.

The durable Villanueva made the Pro Bowl twice with the Pittsburgh Steelers and never missed a game during his career, playing 113 regular season games with 107 starts.

Villanueva signed with the Ravens as a free agent in 2021 and was expected to play right tackle after Baltimore traded Orlando Brown Jr. to Kansas City. However, Villanueva's stint as the starting right tackle last just one game. He moved back to left tackle after All-Pro Ronnie Stanley was shutdown after Week 1 and underwent more ankle surgery that ended his season.

It wasn't any easy transition from Pittsburgh to Baltimore for Villanueva, who spent six seasons as the Steelers' starting left tackle, making the Pro Bowl in 2017 and 2018 as a superb pass blocker protecting Ben Roethlisberger's blindside. During his one season in Baltimore, Villanueva had some up-and-down weeks.

Villanueva was highly respected around the NFL, serving as a lieutenant after his college career at Army. He was deployed to Afghanistan three times, serving as a rifle platoon leader and was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for rescuing wounded soldiers while under enemy fire.

Villanueva was reluctant to speak about his military heroism, but his work supporting military families through charity efforts was well known around Pittsburgh. After he struggled at right tackle Week 1 against the Raiders, he talked about his mindset during competition. It was clear that he cared about his performance and his teammates, and that it bothered him whenever he didn't play up to the standard he expected.

"I think that offensive linemen are very dark people in a lot of ways," Villanueva said. "It's a position where, when you close your eyes before the play, all sorts of bad things are happening. And then you're hoping they don't. Because a lot of things are outside of your control. It's very similar to jumping out of airplanes."

Villanueva never stopped battling during a 2021 season when so many Ravens went down with injuries. General Manager Eric DeCosta has stated that fortifying the offensive line will be a high offseason priority.

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