Oakland Raiders safety Tyvon Branch (photo by Levi Damien)
The Tennessee Titans have signed their safety Michael Griffin to a long term deal. Griffin was the team's franchise player who received the tag ahead of standout cornerback Cortland Finnegan who left in free agency. This is very similar to the situation in Oakland where the Raiders put the franchise tag on Tyvon Branch and are still hoping to sign him long term.
It is uncertain what numbers Branch is asking in negotiations for a long term deal. Griffin just received a 5-year, $35 million deal with $15 million guaranteed according the ESPN's Adam Schefter. This averages out to $7 million a season and gives Branch and the Raiders some precedence for what kind of contract Branch may receive.
There are a few things to consider when comparing this contract to any contract Branch receives.
1. Griffin is a former Pro Bowler. He made the Pro Bowl in 2010 while Branch has never made the trip. This would suggest that Branch should not quite receive the same contract. However, Branch has led the Raiders in tackles the past three seasons so he could say ‘Pro Bowl or not, I am worth it.'
2. The franchise tag pays Branch $6.2 million this season. If he were to sign a long term deal it would have to be for a lower 2012 figure than that to make it would be worth the Raiders while.
3. Reggie McKenzie said he will not be doing deals that put the Raiders in future "cap jail." If the Raiders were to sign Branch to a long term contract with a $7 million per year average, it would mean it would have to be partially backloaded to lower the 2012 figure. This is precisely what McKenzie is trying to avoid.
McKenzie has said that though there is no real progress of late between the Raiders and Branch, the communication lines are open and friendly. Now the two sides have the Griffin deal to consider when negotiating a contract.
If Branch is looking to get more than Griffin received, that may be unreasonable. But a similar if slightly lower figure is certainly not out of the question. And with a deal for a proven safety with the franchise tag placed on him now in place, the blueprint is there for the Raiders and Branch to get a deal done.