Team officials knew his departure was the likely outcome when he hit free agency Tuesday at 4 p.m, and their preparations for life after Grubbs began earlier in the morning when they welcomed free agent guard
Mathis, who blocked for the
Mathis, 30, was ranked by most evaluators as the third best free agent guard available. The top one,
Now, it's up to the Ravens to find a replacement for the 28-year-old Grubbs and begin to bolster an offensive line that now has holes at center and left guard, and faces some questions about the status of left tackle
Signing Mathis would certainly be a good first step. Mathis has played for four teams in seven seasons, but he had his best season in 2011-12 while starting 15 games in his only campaign with the Eagles.
Mathis was a third-round draft pick out of the University of Alabama for the
Represented by Drew Rosenhaus and pursued by several teams, Mathis is in line for a nice contract, but he doesn't figure to be in Grubbs' range.
The Ravens wanted to keep Grubbs, making it one of their offseason priorities. They made him a substantial offer last month, which according to sources, was similar to the five-year, $32.5 million pact that the Ravens gave right guard
However, Grubbs wanted more than that and was seemingly intent on shopping his services on the open market. His status undoubtedly was given a boost when Nicks signed the huge deal with the Buccaneers, leaving the Saints in need of another protector for their record-setting quarterback
"Initially, there was a lot of uncertainty with being drafted to a team and making my home there and now the possibility of having to leave was definitely on my mind," Grubbs said in an interview on the Saints team website. "I just left it up to God and I knew wherever I decided to go it would be the right spot for me. Luckily New Orleans had interest and I had interest in them. I am thankful and blessed to say I am a New Orleans Saint today."
Grubbs, the Ravens' first-round selection in the 2007 draft, had been a mainstay on the offensive line for the past five seasons. He started 65 consecutive games before he missed six contests this past season with a toe injury.
He returned and helped pave the way for running back
Grubbs' departure adds to the uncertainty of the Ravens' offensive line, but the picture could become more clear over the next couple of days. With Mathis still in town, the Ravens will undoubtedly try to close the deal with him, securing their left guard.
The timing of Winston's visit is interesting because the Ravens hold a $500,000 roster bonus on McKinnie that is due Saturday. McKinnie was at the team headquarters Thursdayas Raven officials undoubtedly wanted to get a feel for what kind of shape the left guard is in. McKinnie, 32, has long struggled with conditioning issues.
The Ravens are also still negotiating with free agent center
NOTES: Multiple reports have Ravens inside linebacker