You’ll forgive me if I didn’t exactly jump from my seat when I saw a report of the Raiders making progress in their contract talks with Tyvon Branch. We heard these same rumors more than two months ago. In the end Branch signed his franchise tender and now the Raiders are only days away from having to revisit this entire subject all over again next year.
It no longer matters what exactly it is that’s kept both sides from coming to terms. This falls squarely on the shoulders of Reggie McKenzie and his front office staffers to get this deal done.
McKenzie was the one who singled out Branch as his franchise player, choosing to let Michael Bush walk while severing ties with Stanford Routt and Kamerion Wimbley for salary reasons. Now the Raiders are in a position to free up a little more cash by getting Branch under contract yet the dragging of the feet continues.
Clearly McKenzie values Branch above all other Raiders he could have re-signed or traded away. And it’s not like we’re talking about a contentious situation that in any way resembles what’s going on with Drew Brees and the Saints.
Nope, as far as contract situations go this one is as close to a slam dunk as McKenzie is likely to encounter during his career as a GM.
Branch is a quality defender with a team-first mentality. Whatever the ever-changing coaching staff in Oakland has asked of him he’s done. His play has improved each year and he signed his tender without minimal delay.
Also, Branch plays a position that isn’t ever going to break the bank. No safety will ever be in a place where they can afford to holdout for mega-dollars. Tyvon and his representation knew this and that’s why they haven’t caused any commotion during this drawn out process.
So this falls on McKenzie and the Raiders to get a deal done. If behind the scenes Branch and his agent are asking for too much then that should have been vetted before he was ever given the tag. The clock is ticking and the last thing McKenzie needs is to revisit this dilemma all over again when the stakes will be even higher in a year’s time.