As expected after a report surfaced this morning morning Tyvon Branch made his return to Oakland official by signing the one-year franchise tender applied on March 1st. Reggie McKenzie opted to apply the franchise tag to Branch assuring the standout safety one year on the books for a nice sum of $6-million.
In the short-term the solution makes sense and was truthfully the only move to make. Branch was due a healthy raise having completely outperformed his rookie deal. He was going to get his coin be it from the Raiders or as a free agent. There were those that debated between tagging Branch or the now departed Michael Bush but in the end it was a no-contest.
Branch is among the best safeties in the NFL and he’s only getting better. Bush is a solid runner but showed how trying it is to carry the offensive load as a feature back last season. Put it this way. As the season goes on Branch tends to improve while Bush’s production slipped each week after his record-setting day in San Diego.
While Branch has signed his franchise tender there is still much work to be done. McKenzie owes it to his team to reward Tyvon with a long-term deal.
Since arriving in Oakland McKenzie hasn’t at all been bashful about doing things his way. He’s done away with many players and ideals that were closely tied to Al Davis.
Tyvon Branch is one Davis project that the Raiders cannot afford to lose.
McKenzie is the boss and there is no need to remind anyone of that. It is his show to run and the only person he answers to is Mark Davis, as it should be.
Still, he owes it to the rest of the roster and the NFL for that matter to show that he’s willing to reward his best players regardless of their previous affiliation.
Initially it was reported that the Raiders and Branch were talking contract. They still have time to complete a deal so that option must remain on the table.
However McKenzie should do everything he can to ensure Branch doesn’t play this season on a one-year audition no matter how much he’s compensated for a single season of football. I’m sure there must be plenty of angst on the Raider roster once Stanford Routt’s deal was ripped up like napkin with an ugly chick’s phone number written on it.
McKenzie needs to let his current players and any other players thinking of joining the Raider in the future know that he’s going to take care of those that play the right way. Yes, pro football is a business and most realize the release of Routt was more financial than anything else. But this is still a league driven by the talents of the players. That cannot be lost on McKenzie who played the game once upon a time. What else cannot be lost on him is the value of Branch to the franchise.
From day one Tyvon Branch has done whatever the coaching staff has asked of him. Keep in mind he’s played for multiple coaches all along doing the bidding of whoever was calling the shots. He’s developed into one of the best tackling DBs in the game and he plays with all the qualities the Raider franchise was built on.
Rewarding Branch is more than just a nice gesture – it is necessary.
I’m sure Reggie McKenzie will do the right thing. The financial situation isn’t so dire that the Raiders can’t afford to pay their top defender beyond 2012. Al Davis might have had a scholarship program but there is no arguing Branch is a made man in the NFL. Now it’s time to make him a Raider for the foreseeable future.