As had been expected by most, the Oakland Raiders have signed Tyvon Branch to a long-term deal before Monday’s deadline. The deal, which was first reported by CBSsports.com, is reportedly worth $28 million for 4 years. Those numbers include $17.6 million guaranteed, and will allow the Raider’s leading tackler the last couple of years to cash in $16.1 million in the first two years of contract.
The Raiders have not yet confirmed the signing, and Tyvon Branch has yet to acknowledge it either, but there was this tweet by one of Branch’s reps, Matthew Pope.
— Matthew Pope (@ESG_Pope) July 14, 2012
This was a deal that the Raider’s had to make. The team had placed the franchise tag on their safety earlier this offseason, and Branch signed the $6.2 million tender. The main reason Branch had extra leverage is not because of the dollar amount of the tag, but the fact that the entire $6.2 million counts against this year’s salary cap. With the former Connecticut cornerback signing a multi-year deal, it should free up somewhere around $2 million in cap space. If you add that to the reported $1.34 million in room that they had to begin with, and you have an ample amount of money to sign your two remaining rookie draftees that have yet to sign (Juron Criner, Tony Bergstrom) and bring in a veteran free agent or two at the vet minimum.
This signing, of course, will do nothing but ramp up the already incessant rumors and speculation regarding free agent running back Cedric Benson. From the moment Michael Bush signed with the Chicago Bears, Benson’s name has been thrown around as a possible replacement for last year’s leading rusher in Oakland. Most think he would be a good compliment to the oft-injured Darren McFadden, and a good insurance policy if he were to go down again this year.
Others, who are of the mindset that the running back position is in good hands with Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson along with Marcel Reece to pound out short yardage runs, would prefer the Raiders look at positions of greater need such as linebacker. The name that first pops up in that debate is former Minnesota Viking free agent, E.J. Henderson.
The one good thing about this discussion is that the Raiders actually have the money available to have it.