Grubbs is widely viewed as one of the top two or three offensive guards in the 2012 free agent class, which includes Carl Nicks of the New Orleans Saints and Evan Mathis of the Philadelphia Eagles. Guard is one of the strongest positions in free agency this year, but there are few notable left tackles and centers out there.
Other tackle options include Demetrius Bell of the Buffalo Bills and Kareem McKenzie of the New York Giants.
The Ravens need a long-term answer at left tackle, and that’s clearly not Bryant McKinnie. Maybe it’s Michael Oher -- who was moved to right tackle in 2011 -- after all. Or maybe they will seek a tackle in the draft. It seems unlikely they will find that player in free agency.
They could, however, be in the market for a center depending on what the team decides to do with veteran Matt Birk. Birk doesn’t plan to retire, but he is a free agent and his return to the Ravens in 2012 is not a sure thing. However that situation plays out, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said last month that the Ravens will add another center. It would make sense if the Ravens drafted a center in April, but if they do go the free-agent route, Chris Myers of the Houston Texans and Scott Wells of the Green Bay Packers are the top centers.
Here is a look at the top free agent offensive linemen on the market and where they could wind up in 2012.
1. Jared Gaither: Gaither had an interesting run with the Ravens, but he flashed Pro Bowl potential at times in Baltimore. With no marquee tackles on the market, he stands to cash in after his strong finish in San Diego.
Potential suitors: San Diego Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings.
2. Demetrius Bell: The Buffalo Bills started the season 3-1, then Bell got injured and the team slumped. Coincidence? Who knows. But Bell, a young player with upside, is becoming a free agent at a good time.
Potential suitors: Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, San Diego Chargers, Arizona Cardinals.
3. Kareem McKenzie: McKenzie won two Super Bowl titles with the New York Giants, but with his increasing age and New York’s salary cap status, the Giants will likely go in another direction at right tackle this spring.
Potential suitors: Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins.
Other notable free agents (2011 team in parenthesis): Jeff Backus (Detroit Lions), Vernon Carey (Miami Dolphins), Anthony Collins (Cincinnati Bengals), Barry Richardson (Kansas City Chiefs), Max Starks (Pittsburgh Steelers).
1. Carl Nicks: The New Orleans Saints were forced to use the franchise tag on quarterback Drew Brees and keeping him will be their primary focus leading up to free agency. That could open the door for Nicks to sign elsewhere.
Potential suitors: Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears, Washington Redskins, Tennessee Titans, New Orleans Saints.
2. Ben Grubbs: Will he stay or will he go? Grubbs could be the domino that decides how the Ravens proceed in free agency and in the draft. If Grubbs re-signs, the Ravens can focus on left tackle and center in the draft.