Ravens' Kemoeatu a big priority

OWINGS MILLS -- There's a super-sized item on the Baltimore Ravens' scouting combine agenda beyond evaluating potential rookies, and it isn't devouring the popular jumbo shrimp cocktail at Indianapolis' St. Elmo Steakhouse. The Ravens are scheduled to meet with the agent for massive nose guard Maake Kemoeatu, a 6-foot-5, 350-pound Samoan scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent March 3.

"I'm talking with the Ravens in a very substantive way about trying to get something done before free agency begins," said agent Ken Vierra, Kemoeatu's agent. "I know I'll be talking to them at the combine. Maake very much likes the city of Baltimore and playing for that organization, so we are moving ahead with the Ravens.

"Will we get to free agency? I don't know, but if we can get something that fairly compensates him then his first choice is to stay in Baltimore. I'm very optimistic at this point based on my conversations with the team."

Kemoeatu registered a career-high 70 tackles last season in 16 starts for the NFL's fifth-ranked defense despite playing with a torn bursa sac in his knee.

While he isn't a flashy player since his job description is centered around the grind of being double-teamed on inside runs, Kemoeatu has emerged as a priority for the Ravens along with re-signing linebacker Bart Scott.

Although middle linebacker Ray Lewis was limited to six games because of a season-ending hamstring surgery, linebackers Tommy Polley, Adalius Thomas and Scott all had banner seasons with Kemoeatu tying up blockers in front of them in his first season as a full-time starter.

Polley led Baltimore with 135 tackles and had four sacks. Scott had a career-high 119 tackles and 4 ½ sacks. And Thomas recorded 104 tackles, a career-high nine sacks and intercepted two passes.

"Maake is a pretty unique guy in that most 6-5, 350-pound guys can't move like he can and aren't willing to bang and take on double teams," Vierra said. "A lot of football players are all about putting up numbers, but a guy like him brings value to a defense with his unselfishness.

"Plus, his conditioning is the best it's ever been. He's got to stay in good shape. He's 350 now and that's eating cereal and tuna fish. Maake could weigh 380 pounds pretty fast if he didn't eat right and work out hard."

Vierra acknowledged that Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage is likely to pursue Kemoeatu as a possible cornerstone for their 3-4 defense. The Browns might be willing to spend more on the former undrafted free agent from Utah than Baltimore because of a desperate need for a nose guard.

"I think there's going to be a lot of interest from Cleveland and a few others, and it is a business," Vierra said. "I can tell you Maake wants to stay, and we're doing everything we can to work something out with the Ravens."

NOTES: Cornerback Chris McAlister expressed hope that the Ravens will sign running back Jamal Lewis, whom the team decided not to assign the franchise tag. "To lose Jamal, we would be losing a great asset to our offense," McAlister said in an interview on the NFL Network. "I don't know what their plans are, but I hope they get a deal done with him." ... McAlister admitted that his play wasn't consistent last season. "I kind of lost perspective on how I looked at this game," he said. "Those mediocre moments are what I'm trying to eliminate."

 

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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