Originally published on SBReport.net on July 16, 2012
The Oakland Raiders and safety Tyvon Branch were able to come to terms on a four-year deal on Saturday, just two days prior to the July 16 deadline for franchised players to sign a new contract.
The deal is reportedly worth a total of $26.6 million, plus another $1.4 million should he trigger the included incentive clauses, making it worth a maximum value deal of $28 million. The deal contains $17.1 million guaranteed, according to CBSSports.com. Branch was set to earn $6.2 million for the upcoming season if he had played under the franchise tag he signed back in May.
Branch, who is entering his fifth year now in the NFL and with the Raiders, started all 16 games in each of the last three seasons. Branch has been the team's leading tackler in each of the last two seasons, including 2011 when he tallied 109 tackles, one sack, one fumble recovery and one interception during the campaign.
In just four years of work following being drafted in the third round out of the University of Connecticut, Branch has accumulated 347 tackles, six sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble returns, and three interceptions.
Branch has proven to be a key piece to the Raiders defense, tackling rushers while also slowing down talented pass-receiving tight ends when in coverage.
The signing provides the Raiders with some much-needed stability at the safety position, keeping Branch teamed up with free safety Michael Huff in the secondary. Huff signed a four-year, $32 million contract extension just last offseason.
The stability at the safety position is key in what is expected to be a revamped defense in Oakland. With the passing of iconic owner Al Davis, the Raiders are seeing a transition to a new style of defense under head coach Dennis Allen and his defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver. Davis supported a man-to-man scheme much of the time, whereas the Raiders are expected to blitz and use more zone coverage under Allen and Tarver.
Branch and Huff already have new teammates in the secondary after Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie released starting cornerbacks Chris Johnson and Stanford Routt, then signed their replacements, Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell.
The signing of Branch also gives the Raiders a little bit more wiggle room when it comes to their salary cap numbers. The added cap space may now indeed be used to add another free agent signing, perhaps running back Cedric Benson, who worked out for the Raiders back in June.
Finding a way to sign Branch to a long-term deal was a must for the Raiders, and McKenzie was able to get it done.