Saints replace Carl Nicks with Ben Grubbs

The New Orleans Saints weren’t able to keep the best guard on the free-agent market -- Carl Nicks. So, they went out and got the second-best guard on the market in former Baltimore standout Ben Grubbs.

The Saints agreed to terms with Grubbs on Thursday morning on a five-year deal worth $36 million. Grubbs was viewed by fans in Baltimore as not living up to the expectations that came when he was a 2007 first-round pick for much of his time with the Ravens. But he suddenly became much more appreciated last season when he missed six games with a toe injury and the offensive line struggled without him. The Ravens wanted to keep him, but didn’t have more money to invest in the offensive line after giving Marshal Yanda a big contract last year.

Grubbs will cost the Saints about $2.5 million less per season than Nicks got from the Buccaneers. Grubbs might not be the superstar that Nicks was, but he’s a powerful blocker, and should help keep the interior of the offensive line strong.

Grubbs will be paired with Pro Bowl guard Jahri Evans. Brian de la Puente, who played surprisingly well after taking over as the starting center, will return in the middle.

It’s impossible to say the Saints are better off without Nicks. But they aren’t in bad shape at guard, now that they’ve added Grubbs.