The NFL's free agency period begins on March 12, which is now just a little over a month away. It's also over a month before the NFL draft in late April. So for all the work we do going over teams' needs in the draft between now and then, they really all change after free agency.
With it all but certain that the Eagles will make the move to a 3-4, one of their holes will be in the middle at nose tackle. They don't currently have a player on the roster with any experience in that role nor do they really have anyone that obviously fits it. NTs are typically huge space eaters that sit in the middle of a 3-4 defense.
With that in mind, there's been plenty of talk about how they might deal with that hole in the draft. Do they go big and take a guy like Star Lotulelei at #4? Do they go after a guy like John Jenkins early in the 2nd? Or do they just wait and grab someone later in the draft since often NTs are found in the mid rounds?
Or, do they dip into the free agent market? The Eagles aren't flush with cap space, but they will have some money to spend this offseason and may want to go for a more quick fix sure thing in the middle of their defense. One option would be the Ravens Ma'ake Kemoeatu.
Kemoeatu is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason and the Ravens are in a very tough spot in terms of the cap. They're projected to be $5 million over next year and that's not taking into account the mega contract they're going to have to give to Joe Flacco. Plus, they still have to re-sign Ed Reed and figure out what to do at LT. Is that re-signing Bryant McKinnie or something else? Anquan Boldin is also set to count over $5.5 million against their cap next year, but you would think after the incredible postseason he had, they'll do anything they can not to cut him.
So it could leave a guy Kemoeatu on the outs. He beat out Terrence Cody for the starting NT job in Baltimore this year, but the team could opt to go with the former 2nd round pick rather than have to outbid someone for Kemoeatu.
Now, Kemoeatu is 34 years old, but he came into this season in fantastic shape. He actually dropped 70 pounds that he had packed in after a bad knee injury. He's obviously not a long term option, but NT is an important spot to fill and Kemoeatu would be a reliable and likely cheap way to do that next season. At 6-5, 354 he's got prototypical size for the position and his veteran presence and familiarity with the system could be very valuable as the rest of the team adapts to the new scheme.
If Ravens LB coach Ted Monachino ends up being the next Eagles defensive coordinator, Kemoeatu should be a plug and play type guy. He'd not only scratch one immediate need off the list, he'd give the team some time to grab a NT late and develop him before throwing him into the fire. Kemoeatu himself was undrafted and has now played 10 years in the league.