Nicks' new deal means Saints could focus on signing Grubbs

Ravens left guard

Ben Grubbs

, an unrestricted free agent, is in New Orleans today to meet with


officials -- and he just got good news.

Carl Nicks

, who had manned the left guard position for the Saints, has signed with the

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

. We’ll see if the Saints let Grubbs leave town.

According to


, Nicks’ contract is worth $47.5 million -- including $31 million guaranteed -- which makes him the highest-paid guard in the league. That monster deal, coupled with New Orleans’ newfound need for a guard, could mean that Grubbs gets the big payday


The Ravens, according to our sources, before the start of free agency made Grubbs an offer similar to the five-year, $32.5 million deal they gave to right guard

Marshal Yanda

last offseason. There is chatter that Grubbs wants a much more lucrative contract -- and Nicks’ deal might help him get it.

It’s unclear how much wiggle room, if any, the Ravens have after their current offer to Grubbs, but you have to figure if another team offers him $8 million a year, he’s gone.

The Ravens have been quiet so far in free agency, but if they lose Grubbs or decide to pull their offer first, the activity should pick up a bit. Grubbs is this offseason’s biggest domino for the Ravens, but they want to re-sign some of their other free agents, too, including

Jarret Johnson


Jameel McClain


Cory Redding


As far as replacing Grubbs goes -- if he leaves of course -- the Ravens have 2011 third-round draft pick draft

Jah Reid

as an option at left guard, but at 6-7, he would be on the taller side at that position. If they go the free agent route, the list of available guards includes

Steve Hutchinson


Bobbie Williams


Jake Scott

, and

Evan Mathis

. They are also expected to draft at least one lineman next month.

The Ravens have also been linked to right tackle

Eric Winston

, but

and after may also meet

. We’ll see if Winston, the top right tackle out there, makes it through that gauntlet without a deal.