Raiders Slap Branch With Franchise Tag

According to Asher Matthews over at TFDS.com and confirmed at FoxNews, the Raiders have chosen to apply the franchise tag to strong safety Tyvon Branch.  Although tentative until the Monday, March 5 deadline, this really comes as no surprise as the Raiders are well over the salary cap, speculated to be to the tune of almost $25 mil. Franchising Branch will only cost them in the neighborhood of $6-$7 million vs. other, higher paid positions.

Branch has been one of the few consistently productive forces on the Raiders defense since he was drafted in 2008, racking up 109 tackles last season alone

I fully expect to see Kamerion Wimbley and even Michael Huff placed on the trading block.  Wimbley has reportedly refused to take  a pay cut in order to restructure his contract.  The folks at Rotoworld have this to say about Huff:

Raiders FS Michael Huff’s 2012 base salary of $4 million is fully guaranteed. He also has a $4 million roster bonus due on March 16. While the Raiders are in cap-clearance mode, they’d have to eat a large chunk of money to get out of Huff’s deal. Huff played well when healthy last year, so it remains to be seen whether he’s even on GM Reggie McKenzie’s chopping block. Over the past three seasons, Huff has caused 11 turnovers with 4.5 sacks and 25 pass breakups.

They also mention that Huff may be retained but moved to cornerback. This would be a smart move because the salary would then fit the position while simultaneously freeing up a spot at free safety.

And regarding Michael Bush, another high dollar liability:

Free agent RB Michael Bush is set to hit the open market with the Raiders placing the franchise tag on SS Tyvon Branch. “Michael Bush, Come on down?” tweeted Bengals beat writer Joe Reedy following news that Branch had been tagged. The Raiders are over the salary cap by $16 million more than the next-closest team, so it’s hard to believe they’d make a run at re-signing Bush. We agree that the Bengals, now employing former Raiders coach Hue Jackson, are a likely landing spot.

Makes sense. We don’t need two all-star HB’s, especially at the premium salaries they both command. Reggie McKenzie definitely has some juggling to do this offseason. Lets hope it all gels.

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