Ravens officially sign Grubbs

OWINGS MILLS -- Ben Grubbs broke the Baltimore Ravens' streak of first-round holdouts Friday morning, finalizing a five-year deal that included $5.5 million in guaranteed money. Drafted 29th overall out of Auburn, the offensive guard's contract is just shy of $8 million with a maximum value of $11 million if he triggers every incentive clause.

He received a $1 million signing bonus, according to NFL Players Association figures.

The defending AFC North champions report to training camp Sunday in Westminster. This marks the first time since tight end Todd Heap in 2001 that the Ravens' first-round draft pick will be present for coach Brian Billick's first team meeting of the season.

Grubbs' deal breaks a run of six consecutive holdouts, including safety Ed Reed in 2002, quarterback Kyle Boller and linebacker Terrell Suggs in 2003, wide receiver Mark Clayton in 2005 and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata in 2006.

Grubbs' contract is comparable to the five-year, $8 million deal signed by San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley, the No. 28 overall pick, who received $5.6 million in guaranteed money with a maximum value of $10.9 million. And Grubbs' compensation is slightly higher than the five-year, $7.8 million deal received by the No. 30 overall pick: San Diego Chargers rookie wide receiver Craig Davis.

Grubbs' base salaries are $285,000 for 2007, $1.05 million in 2008, $1.26 million in 2009, $1.47 million in 2010 and $795,000 in 2011.

An All-Southeastern Conference selection, Grubbs was regarded as the consensus top guard in the draft.

He's slated to compete immediately for a starting job at right guard with Chris Chester, who enters camp at McDaniel College atop the depth chart.

"It's crazy because I am living the dream right now," Grubbs said during spring minicamps. "It can't get any better, so I am just working to learn the system."

Grubbs is adjusting to playing on the right side after excelling at left guard in college where he allowed only 2 1/2 career sacks and seven quarterback pressures while grading out at over 90 percent in 30 of his 38 starts.

The 6-foot-3, 315-pounder cleared the way for 48 touchdowns and was penalized only four times in 2,331 snaps.

Now, he has to make a first impression on the NFL level.

"It's like starting over again," Grubbs said. "Thank God I went through that in college, so I know what to expect now. It's just on a different level, a much higher level at that. I am just trying to take everything in and let it digest."

Traditionally, the Ravens' first-round draft pick has made an immediate impact.

However, the Ravens are in a situation where they might not need to insert Grubbs right away.

Chester is entering his second season and is regarded as one of the most athletic linemen in team history. Because he can also play center, there's a possibility he could eventually move inside and supplant veteran Mike Flynn.

That flexibility in the lineup will depend upon how quickly Grubbs progresses.

Grubbs has been quizzing veterans on assignments, taking a low-key, blue-collar approach on the practice field and during film sessions.

"Just from what I've seen and it's only been a little bit, he's got a lot of athleticism, which is good," All-Pro offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said. "He's got the right demeanor so far.

"He doesn't talk a whole lot, which is good for a rookie offensive lineman. You should just come and try to learn and try to do your job and stay quiet and humble. That's what I like about him."

Meanwhile, the Ravens agreed to a three-year contract with rookie fullback Le'Ron McClain, the team's fourth-round draft pick from Alabama. He received minimum base salaries of $285,000 in 2007, $370,000 in 2008 and $460,000 in 2009.

That deal completes the Ravens' negotiations with all eight of their draft picks.

"It's good to have each of our draft choices finished, prior to the start of Brian's team meeting on Sunday," Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome said.

NOTE: The Ravens cut rookie defensive lineman Andrew Powell, an undrafted free agent from Mississippi State.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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