Saints sign free agent G Ben Grubbs

BRETT MARTEL AP Sports Writer Published:

METAIRIE, La. (AP) -- 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.