2. If you read the tea leaves, there is almost no way this team is going to be able to re-sign Ben Grubbs. I'm all but certain we've watched him play his last game as a Baltimore Raven. Someone asked Ozzie Newsome what his priorities were going to be this offseason as he tries to improve the team, and in a rare moment of candor, Newsome came right out and said the obvious: offensive line. He knows that's the biggest challenge he faces, and the fact that the Ravens simply cannot tie up nearly $70 million in their two guard positions is going to make his job that much harder. The Ravens can't offer Grubbs what he can command on the open market, and everyone knows it. Someone is going to make him one of the five highest-paid guards in the NFL. That's just how the league works. Is Grubbs one of the five best guards in football? That's debatable. He has great technique, and he rarely makes mistakes, but I'm not sure he's a physically dominant player. I think he might do some things better than Marshal Yanda, but Yanda is more versatile, more physical, and he just happened to make it to free agency first. The Ravens elected to pay big money to keep him because they knew they couldn't make a Super Bowl run without him. Now that Grubbs' rookie contract is up, it's somewhat unfortunate for him that Joe Flacco and Ray Rice also happen to be looking for new contracts, because that's something Yanda didn't have to contend with. I suspect Ravens cap guru Pat Moriarty will crunch the numbers 100 different ways, but he's going to reach the same conclusion every time. It doesn't make financial sense to keep Grubbs, because it would create holes elsewhere the Ravens simply won't be able to fill. They need help at tackle, at center, at linebacker and receiver, and cutting corners Domonique Foxworth and Chris Carr isn't going to create infinite cap space. Newsome did his best to praise Grubbs on Wednesday, but at the same time, lay the groundwork for what sounds like his eventual departure. "Ben has two major factors that we like: He's a really good player and he's young," Newsome said. "So, as we start to put together the 53-man squad, going into 2012, we will factor those things in. But what we also have to factor in, what will that keep us getting and what will that force us to have to get rid of in order to keep [him]? And that's the balance that we'll have to deal with going forward."
Baltimore Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.