With Branch deal done, Benson could be close behind

Cedric Benson#32 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball during the NFL game against Houston Texans

Free agent running back Cedric Benson worked out for the Raiders three weeks ago but left with no deal. Benson had shown interest in coming to Oakland that the Raiders were said to be interested as well which prompted their bringing him in for a workout.

The sticking point is thought to be money. If Benson were to sign for league minimum, it would have cost the Raiders $810,000 due to his veteran status. Even at that amount, the Raiders would have been hard pressed to afford him.

But more than likely, Benson is looking for something a bit more than minimum for his services. The latest reports had the Raiders at just under a million below the salary cap-- not near enough to sign Benson to anything above minimum. So they waited.

Now the Raiders have finally signed Tyvon Branch to a long term deal which should net the team around about $2.3 million in additional cap relief for a total of about $3.3 million according to my figures. That will be more than enough to now get Benson signed with money left over for another free agent signing.

The team currently sits at 88 players on the roster with 90 players allowed. The 88 players includes unsigned rookies Tony Bergstrom and Juron Criner. Their contract values are set per the rookie cap and the money for their contracts is also already set aside and does not affect the Raiders' current available money under the salary cap.

There are still a few good players available as free agents. Three who jumped mind are linebacker EJ Henderson, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, and nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin. But thus far the only workout or reported interest has been with Benson. Who the other free agent signing ends up being is unclear.

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