OWINGS MILLS - The Baltimore Ravens' quest to replace Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs continues, a hunt restarted by Evan Mathis rejoining the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday with a five-year, $25 million contract.
Mathis declined the Ravens' competing offer after visiting team headquarters this week and returning to Arizona to talk it over with his family.
Ravens team officials knew it would be difficult to convince Mathis to leave the Eagles once he didn't immediately agree to a deal believed to be similar in value and structure to what he accepted from Philadelphia.
Now, the top remaining offensive guard in free agency has signed a $31.25 million maximum value contract that includes $7 million in guaranteed money and $9 million over the first two years of the deal.
"I am very honored to have found a home with an organization as great as the Eagles," Mathis said in a statement. "The choice was between two classy organizations and I have the utmost respect for everything Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh, and the Baltimore Ravens represent. They made it a tough decision but my heart was in Philly."
Mathis had told the Times following his visit to Baltimore that the Ravens offered him a "nice deal," calling the Ravens "a wonderful organization," that made him feel welcome, saying: "It's a good fit."
A popular fan favorite in Philadelphia, Mathis wrote on his Twitter account: "To all the Eagles fans who offered me various food and incentives to return, I've come to college. I forgot to wear Green for St. Patrick's Day, so I signed with the Eagles to make up for it."
Mathis, 30, was ranked the best offensive guard in the NFL last season by Pro Football Focus.
A former Carolina Panthers third-round draft pick from Alabama, Mathis started all but one game last season for the Eagles.
Since Grubbs signed a $36 million contract with the New Orleans Saints, the Ravens have had a gaping hole at left guard.
Among the best remaining guard options: Vernon Carey, Robert Gallery, Eric Steinbach, Kyle Kosier, Bobbie Williams, Leonard Davis, Jake Scott and Jacob Bell and tackle-guard Geoff Schwartz.
The Ravens also could shift offensive tackle Jah Reid, a third-round draft pick who played sparingly as a rookie last season, inside to guard. Reid is a bit tall for a guard at 6-foot-7, 335 pounds.
They are also evaluating the merits of Wisconsin center Peter Konz, Wisconsin offensive guard Kevin Zeitler and Georgia offensive tackle-guard Cordy Glenn.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs have signed former Houston Texans offensive tackle Eric Winston to a four-year contract.
Winston was initially scheduled to visit the Ravens after he visiting the Miami Dolphins, but he signed with the Chiefs on Saturday after cancelling visits to the St. Louis Rams and the Detroit Lions.
Since free agency began, the Ravens have agreed to a three-year contract to hold onto six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk and retained left offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie by picking up his $500,000 roster bonus.
NOTES: Ravens free agent safety Tom Zbikowski officially signed his three-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts, a deal worth nearly $5.5 million with a signing bonus just over $1 million.
The Ravens stayed in touch with Zbikowski and had some interest in having him back, according to his agent, Ralph Cindrich.
The Ravens lack depth at safety behind starters Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard with backup safety Haruki Nakamura signing a three-year deal worth up to $5.5 million that included $1.3 million guaranteed.