As of today the Oakland Raiders have but two weeks left to get a long-term deal done for Tyvon Branch. If the sides can’t arrange something then it’s a one-year tag worth $6-million for Tyvon and another flirtation with free agency in 2013.
Certainly Oakland’s cap constraints have played a role in the delay in getting a deal done. Reggie McKenzie has dropped plenty of phat cat contracts but he’s still got plenty more work to do. So thinking long-term might not be the highest priority for McKenzie at the moment.
Of course it would be in McKenzie’s best interest to get Branch under contract. Not only would a long-term deal help to reduce Branch’s cap figure it will also provide some goodwill throughout the Raiders locker room.
No doubt there has got to be some angst amongst the Raiders that were rewarded with Al Davis specials. That McKenzie would quickly part ways with Stanford Routt and Kamerion Wimbley while choosing not even to pursue Michael Bush must have sent some feelings of unrest throughout the roster.
By keeping Branch around for the long haul, one of the most productive players on the roster, it says that McKenzie isn’t just looking at numbers on paper. It would reflect his understanding of the roster he inherited. It would also be the right thing to do. Guys like Branch don’t grow on trees and if Oakland’s defense is going to make a dramatic turnaround then Tyvon needs to be on board.
With San Diego’s Eric Weddle getting a respectable deal last year there is a precedent that has been established in the AFC West. Not saying Branch is owed Weddle money – at least not yet – but if Branch continues his upward trend he’ll be able to command more money than McKenzie might be able to offer and perhaps more than Weddle got. That’s another reason it’s in Oakland’s best interest to secure a deal for Branch now.
As it stands Branch has some leverage but not enough to warrant a contract with an average salary greater than his current tag number. Now should Tyvon make a Pro Bowl this season and get some All-Pro love then all bets are off and McKenzie will have to show him the money.
The clock is ticking and there is plenty at stake in 2012. Branch deserves a new deal having completely outplayed his rookie contract and McKenzie needs a foundation for the future of the defense. It’s time to get this done now so things won’t get awkward later.