The Ravens lost free-agent guard Ben Grubbs, who signed a five-year, $36 million deal with the New Orleans Saints that included a $10 million signing bonus (according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter).
That means Baltimore can't allow Eagles guard Evan Mathis to leave its team facility without a signed contract today. There are other guards available like Steve Hutchinson and Robert Gallery, but Mathis is the best immediate answer to losing Grubbs.
If the Ravens can't sign Mathis, there would be a major drop-off on the interior of the offensive line. Baltimore has other options, such as drafting Wisconsin center Peter Konz in the first round and playing him at guard for a season, or moving offensive tackle Jah Reid to left guard. But Mathis represents the best choice in terms of experience and powerful run-blocking.
As far as Grubbs, it looks like his move to the Saints is a no-brainer. He signs a deal that is slightly better than the one signed last summer by the Ravens' Marshal Yanda (five years, $32.5 million with a $10 million signing bonus) and joins another Super Bowl contender. It does make you wonder whether the Ravens, who attempted to keep Grubbs from becoming a free agent, offered him the same deal as Yanda. And, if the Ravens did make that offer, why didn't Grubbs take it?
The free-agent market for guards could set up like dominoes this year. The Saints lose the best free-agent guard (Carl Nicks) and signed the second-best one (Grubbs). The Ravens lose the second-best one and now have the third-best inside their building.