Ravens making pitch to J. Lewis, Taylor

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens' empty backfield was in serious motion on the eve of free agency. Jamal Lewis, whom Baltimore decided not to assign a $6 million franchise tag last month, received a contract offer from the Ravens on Friday. Lewis is also expected to draw interest from the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals.

"Things are slow right now, but that could change fast," said Mitch Frankel, Lewis' agent. "We'll see who has the most interest in Jamal."

Backup running back Chester Taylor is expected to visit the Minnesota Vikings today after the Ravens traded contract proposals with his representative and didn't reach a deal. The Vikings' personnel department ranks Taylor among its top three unrestricted free agent runners.

"Chester is taking a visit and is not signing with the Ravens tonight," said Ken Sarnoff, Taylor's agent, in an e-mail.

Former Indianapolis Colts star Edgerrin James represents a potential fallback option if the Ravens are unable to quickly sign Lewis or Taylor. Agent Drew Rosenhaus declined to comment on Baltimore as a potential destination for James, who has produced 9,226 rushing yards and 64 touchdowns in seven seasons.

The Ravens are concentrating most of their efforts on trying to retain their own free agents and aren't expected to generate a lot of activity this weekend.

Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders have officially cut ties with quarterback Kerry Collins in order to save $9.2 million against the salary cap. The Ravens are very interested in Collins, 33, but aren't expected to immediately reunite him with offensive coordinator Jim Fassel.

Fassel resurrected Collins' career with the New York Giants following a string of off-field problems in Carolina and New Orleans. Fassel coached Collins in a Super Bowl loss to Baltimore after the 2000 season.

Collins, who passed for 3,759 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season, would compete with Kyle Boller for the starting job.

The Ravens could also consider Brian Griese if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don't bring him back after cutting him Friday.

Nose guard Maake Kemoeatu remains the Ravens' top priority in free agency, but the 6-foot-5, 350-pounder will be heavily pursued by the Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins. The Browns aren't expected to be quite as aggressive in their approach to Kemoeatu as initially forecast.

"The market is going to be extremely high," said Ken Vierra, Kemoeatu's agent, who's scheduled to speak with the Ravens today at noon. "It's going to probably be a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $20 million, which is tremendous.

"I'm a little surprised. I didn't know that nose tackles are valued so much. Our little Maake is all grown up."

Kemoeatu is likely to begin taking visits Monday and make a decision by late next week.

After a strong season in relief of Ray Lewis, linebacker Bart Scott is expected to be a hot commodity and will likely visit the Browns as soon as today. Scott, who was at the Ravens' training complex Friday, is also a target for the Vikings, Green Bay Packers and St. Louis Rams.

"I went to polish up my name plate because I don't plan on going anywhere," Scott said. "Baltimore is my home until they tell me otherwise even though I'm going to listen to what other teams have to say."


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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