Saints Questions: Can Ben Grubbs replace Carl Nicks?

Saints Questions: Can Ben Grubbs replace Carl Nicks?

Credit: Getty Images

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 06: Offensive lineman Ben Grubbs #66 of the Baltimore Ravens blocks during training camp at M&T Bank Stadium on August 6, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 5, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 24 at 8:35 AM

As summer seems to get hotter and hotter and we get down to only baseball on TV, there’s only one thing to do to keep our interest – answer questions and give our thoughts about the Saints heading into training camp.

We’ll run out one question a day in a hope that we satiate your thirst until actual toe meets leather.

19. Will losing Carl Nicks be offset by the addition of Ben Grubbs?
For four seasons, we saw Carl Nicks grow from mid-round reach to first-team gem. He earned Pro Bowl berths in both 2010 and 2011 and was an All-Pro those same seasons.

Largely considered one of the best guards in the NFL, Nicks (6-foot-5, 343 pounds) became one of the crucial components to an offense that set records last season.

According to one NFL statistical website, in 2011 the Saints ran behind Nicks 71 times, fourth-most in the NFL. The average gain of 4.41 yards was 11th-best in the NFL.

But the Saints and Nicks couldn’t come together on a long-term contract and, in free agency, Nicks left for greener (read: money-colored) pastures, signing a five-year, $47.5 million contract, including more than $30 million in guaranteed money.

Guess what?

The Saints got a player who was just as good in the running game for less money. By all accounts Ben Grubbs (6-3, 310) was the best left guard on the market this offseason. And the Saints picked him up to replace Nicks with a $36 million contract that included only $15.9 in guaranteed greenbacks.

According to the same website, Baltimore (where Grubbs played previously), ran the ball behind the big left guard 94 times, more than any other team in the NFL. And the 4.76 yards per carry ranked as 5th-best in the league.

Grubbs, a former 29th overall pick, started 70 of 74 games in Baltimore after a standout career at Auburn.

In other words, the loss of Nicks should be offset by Grubbs.

--Bradley Handwerger

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