Tyvon Branch Signs With Kansas City Chiefs


When the Oakland Raiders released safety Tyvon Branch as a cap shedding move after two injury plagued seasons, the expectation was that a team in the position to take a risk on a former quality player with injury issues would be more than willing to take the plunge on Branch. After all when healthy the safety was good enough on the field to command a large salary from the Raiders as an expected cornerstone of their secondary before injuries took their toll.

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Initially it was the Indianapolis Colts along with Washington kicking the tires on Branch after his release, but the Raiders AFC West rivals swooped in to potentially make general manager Reggie McKenzie come to regret saving salary to move on from an oft-injured former starter on his defense as the Kansas City Chiefs emerged as the lead contender for Branch’s services.

The morning of 2015 NFL Free Agency confirmed that the Chiefs would be jumping on the opportunity to take a flier on the former Raiders safety, announcing that they would be locking Branch into a low risk one year deal to replace Ron Parker in their secondary for the 2015 season. Rolling the dice on a player who just couldn’t stay healthy in 2013 or 2014 for the Raiders.

Branch didn’t make it through a full month during his last two years with the Raiders, a factor that played a large part in his release along with the struggles to win games in Oakland with the team investing their hopes in the secondary on a player who just couldn’t stay healthy. His play prior to injuries was more than enough to give Kansas City a reason to take a chance on him, hoping they get a productive player should he stay on the field.

Branch hasn’t played a full season since 2011, but prior to his injury plagued seasons in 13/14 he was a versatile safety who could help in the run as well as his expected duties in the downfield passing game in stopping the big play. Branch had 70+ tackles for four straight years before 2013, numbers that the Chiefs likely looked at before taking a chance on him on a one year deal.

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It is likely that Branch does find a way to play more games in 2015 than over the past two years, something that will make it look like the Raiders could have used him as he returns to production, but at the price they had Branch at the move was more than justified. It is unlikely that Branch will ever produce to his pricetag in Oakland ever again, but the chance that he returns to being a serviceable starter in Kansas city is likely even if he can stay on the field for 12-14 games this upcoming season.

Kansas City will be hoping that this is a move that allows them to work around what is minimal cap space after coming to terms with wideout Jeremy Maclin during the NFL’s negotiating period with free agents. Needing bang for their buck at the safety position, a small one year deal for a player with lots to prove makes sense for Kansas City. The fact it is a motivated player cut by Oakland makes the deal even more intriguing in Kansas City as well as the AFC West as Branch’s return to the Black Hole is sure to be a talking point. A shell of his former self upon his exit, Raiders fans may not miss Branch right now, but having to watch their former starter play for the rival Chiefs will leave a sour taste in the mouths of the Raider Nation should the safety return to health to be a productive part of the Kansas City defense in 2015.