Ravens trying to hold onto their own

OWINGS MILLS -- As the labor discord and staredown between NFL management and the players' union abated just enough for free agency to be pushed back until Monday morning, the Baltimore Ravens kept trying to coax a few high-priority players to stay on the roster.

The Ravens are still negotiating with nose guard Maake Kemoeatu, who remains inclined to test his market value.

"They made some significant overtures, which is smart business on their part and it has an effect," said Ken Vierra, Kemoeatu's agent. "I just think the better business decision is to wait and see what the contract numbers may look like all-around. We don't have to do a deal now, not until I get a chance to talk to some other people."

The Cleveland Browns are desperate for a nose guard for their 3-4 defense and are also expected to pursue Kemoeatu, a 6-foot-5, 350-pounder coming off his best season ever.

Meanwhile, the Ravens are holding preliminary discussions with running back Chester Taylor that have yet to produce a concrete offer.

Defensive end Tony Weaver reiterated that he doesn't expect to be back, but is open to listening to the Ravens' sales pitch. Given a preference, the former Notre Dame standout would like to remain in Baltimore. However, other teams may be able and inclined to pay Weaver a lot more.

If the collective bargaining agreement is ultimately extended, a projected salary cap of $94.5 million could go as high as $105 million. That would boost Baltimore from $14.4 million under the cap to nearly $25 million.

That sort of dramatic financial change would allow the Ravens the freedom to expand their pool of potential acquisitions to expensive athletes such as quarterback Drew Brees and running back Shaun Alexander, or hold onto more of their own 15 unrestricted free agents.

Linebacker Bart Scott is in a waiting mode while Baltimore decides what price to assign to him. He's been linked as a potential target to the Minnesota Vikings, Browns and Green Bay Packers. Tommy Polley represents a fallback option at inside linebacker if Scott leaves.

"We're still hoping to work it out with the Ravens," said Harold Lewis, Scott's agent. "We want to see what's going on between the players and owners because that seems to change every hour. We're not ready to pull the trigger on anything because nobody knows what's going on."

NOTES: The Ravens aren't expected to try an immediate pursuit of Cincinnati Bengals free agent quarterback Jon Kitna, who's anticipating heavy interest from four to five teams when free agency commences. Baltimore is likely to follow a similar approach with Pittsburgh Steelers safety Chris Hope. Safety Will Demps will not be back, according to his agent… The Ravens assigned the low tender of $712,000 to restricted free agents defensive end Jarret Johnson, fullback Ovie Mughelli and defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin. Earlier this week, Baltimore retained offensive tackle Tony Pashos with the first-round tender of $1.552 million and running back Musa Smith with the low tender. … The Ravens were represented at the owners' meeting in New York by team president Dick Cass as owner Steve Bisciotti spent the day at the team's training complex.

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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