The Saints continue to shake up their roster.
The team has reached a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs that will send guard Ben Grubbs to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick.
Grubbs has started the last 48 games for New Orleans at left guard.
The move saves the Saints $3.6 million against the salary cap. The team used some of that money to sign former New England Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner to a three-year contract.
New Orleans also met with former Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller on Thursday, according to a source. Former Packers cornerback Tramon Williams left town Thursday following his visit without a deal, according to ESPN.
It is not immediately clear who will take the place of Grubbs. The most likely in-house candidate is Tim Lelito, who provided depth at center and guard last season.
Prior to this move, the interior offensive line appeared to be a position of strength. The team recently acquired center Max Unger from the Seattle Seahawks in a trade for Jimmy Graham, which appeared to solidify this group after down 2014.
But it was long expected New Orleans would make a move with their guards. Grubbs was set to count $9.6 million against the salary cap. His counterpart, Jahri Evans, carries a charge of $11 million.
It remains possible that Evans has his deal reworked or is either released or traded. But if forced to choose, Evans appeared to have a stronger 2014 season and required less help.
Of the 659 passes Drew Brees attempted last season, the center either immediately turned Evans’ direction or provided help on 163 occasions. Grubbs received immediate help 232 times.
On the rest of the snaps, the center had his own man to block, other responsibilities to tend to, or waited for the play to develop before determining which player to help.
It was long assumed change was going to come to the interior offensive line. The group struggled with allowing pressure even though it did not always result in sacks, and much of that came from the middle of the line. Given their large salaries, a target was placed on the backs of Grubbs of Evans.
It seems likely the team will look for additional help on the line in the draft, whether it’s for next season or down the line. If Lelito does not move to guard, Unger, who played left tackle and center at the University of Oregon, could bounce over to guard with Lelito at center.
Last year’s starting center, Jonathan Goodwin, is a free agent.
Grubbs signed a five-year, $36 million deal with the Saints in 2012 after starting his career with the Baltimore Ravens to replace the All-Pro Carl Nicks. Grubbs made the Pro Bowl in 2011 and 2013.
Grubbs’ departure is the second trade the Saints made this week after packaging Graham and a fourth-round pick in a deal with the Seattle Seahawks for Unger and a first-round pick.
Multiple reports indicate the swapping might not be done. Many teams believe everyone on New Orleans’ roster is up for grabs, with one report specifically naming wide receiver Kenny Stills.
It’s still unclear what, exactly, this team will look like next season.
But it’s now clear that it will certainly be different.