Saints sign free agent G Ben Grubbs

Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs agreed to terms on a five-year, $36

million free agent contract with New Orleans on Thursday as the

Saints moved to fill the void left when All-Pro left guard Carl

Nicks left in free agency for NFC South Division rival Tampa

Bay.

Grubbs ”will prove to be an outstanding fit to our offensive

line and our team both on and off the field,” Saints general

manager Mickey Loomis said. ”Ben comes to us from an offense in

Baltimore that experienced a lot of success, both running the

football and in pass protection. He was a big part of that and we

believe that he can come right in and fit into our program without

missing a beat.”

The contract worked out between Loomis and Grubbs’ agent, Pat

Dye Jr., includes about $16 million in guaranteed money, including

a signing bonus of about $10 million.

The 6-foot-3, 310-pound Grubbs, a former Auburn standout, was

selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 2007 draft, the

29th pick overall. He became a starter at right guard during his

rookie season, then switched to left guard the following year.

He has helped clear running room for Ravens star running back

Ray Rice, who last season rushed for 1,364 yards and scored a

franchise-record 15 touchdowns.

The 28-year-old Grubbs, who grew up in Alabama, has played in 74

regular season games in his five-year NFL career, starting 70 of

them. He also has started in five playoff games for Baltimore,

including last season’s AFC championship game that the Ravens

narrowly lost to the New England Patriots.

In New Orleans, he’ll step into a tight-knight offensive line

that includes All-Pro right guard Jahri Evans, and he’ll line up

alongside veteran left tackle Jermon Bushrod.

Grubbs also will become part of an offense that last year set

numerous NFL records, including for total yards with 7,474 and net

team yards passing with 5,347. Grubbs will be responsible for

protecting quarterback Drew Brees, who passed for a single-season

record 5,476 yards.

Grubbs was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2009 and 2010, and was named

to the regular Pro Bowl roster for the first time last season.