KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Even a two-time Pro Bowl guard isn’t spared the harsh reality of the business side of the NFL.
Ben Grubbs was reminded of that fact when he received notification the New Orleans Saints were about to trade him to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a fifth-round pick.
“I was driving in my car,” Grubbs said during a Friday conference call with Chiefs beat writers, “and I got a text from my agent saying that trade talks have started.”
The 31-year-old Grubbs, a veteran of eight NFL seasons, said he was mentally prepared given his experience in the league. He also understood the environment as he entered the fourth year of his contract with New Orleans.
“I knew the situation that we were in as far as financially with the Saints,” Grubbs said. “So when things started happening this offseason, it just kind of reminded me that, ‘OK, Ben, just be ready. You may have to take a pay cut, you may get released.’
“I just knew that the salary cap was going to be their main priority, and they needed to get under that. So I was ready for it and it was unexpected, but it was for a lack of a better word, expected. It is what it is, and I’m ready for it. I’m here now. The rest is history, and I’m in a good place so I’m thankful and happy to be here.”
The Chiefs share the same sentiment.
“We acquired a very good football player via trade with the New Orleans Saints today,” general manager John Dorsey said in a statement announcing the trade. “Ben is a talented veteran that has played a key role on a number of productive NFL offenses. He’s smart, physical, and we believe he will be a good addition to our offensive line.”
Where the 6-3, 310-pound Grubbs fits in the Chiefs’ plan remains unclear after the team acquired two guards within a 24-hour period. The 6-5, 327-pound Paul Fanaika signed a three-year, $8.1 million free-agent deal Thursday in addition to the trade for Grubbs.
Fanaika lined up at right guard the past two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, and Grubbs has played left guard virtually his entire NFL career with the Saints (2012-14) and Baltimore Ravens (2007-11). He did, however, play right guard during his rookie season in Baltimore.
“Left guard is my position,” Grubbs said. “Right guard, I don’t know what that was about my first year. I played left in college and when I got to Baltimore they needed me at right guard. Johnathan Ogden didn’t want to play next to a rookie, so I was plugged in at right guard. But yeah, I’ll be at left guard.”
Kansas City’s offensive line is under transition from the 2014 campaign, and it would be natural for Grubbs to fill the gaping hole at left guard left vacant by current unrestricted free agents Mike McGlynn and Jeff Linkenbach. Grubbs would allow the Chiefs to potentially move Jeff Allen to right tackle.
The Chiefs offensive line is also young, a scenario that presents a mentorship opportunity for Grubbs.
“I don’t want to be too forceful,” he said. “That’s not my style anyway. I’m just going to come in. I’m a kind of guy that comes in and leads by example. I’m not really a ‘rah-rah’ guy. I didn’t watch them play. I don’t know how the offensive line plays here. I’m just going to come in and do what I do and if it’s something that they can take from and the style that I play with, then that’s good.”
In the meantime, Grubbs appeared to shake off the shock of the trade.
He said the NFL is a “tough league” given how the Saints also sent All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham packing to the Seattle Seahawks.
But Grubbs accepts the circumstances that led him to the Chiefs as a seasoned professional.
“My first initial thought was that I am going to a good situation,” Grubbs said. “Andy Reid is a great coach and has a good history. I know that the guys that he has with him kind of reflect his image, so that’s a plus for me.”