Deadline looms for Raiders to sign Branch to new deal

Oakland Raiders safety Tyvon Branch at the 2010 Raider Nation Celebration (photo by Levi Damien)

Safety Tyvon Branch is already the Raiders franchise player for 2012. But with that franchise tag designation comes a $6.2 million salary cap hit. And the Raiders have until July 16 to sign him to a long term deal if they hope to bring that cap figure down for the 2012 season.

The most recent figures have the Raiders at $1.34 under the salary cap. This number severely limits the Raiders' ability to sign free agents.

Most recently they had Cedric Benson in for a workout and appeared poised to sign the veteran running back to a deal. But even if that deal were for one season at the veteran minimum, he would receive around $810 thousand- leaving just $530 thousand left.

The restrictive nature of their cap situation has them waiting on signing Benson or anyone else to the roster at this moment even though there is currently two roster spots open. And what they are waiting on is the contract talks with Tyvon Branch.

Recently Titans franchise player, safety Michael Griffin, received a 5-year, $35 million deal. Most think that deal is overpaying for Griffin's serviceds but being that Branch is in the identical situation, it could mean he has his sights set on a similar type deal.

That deal would pay him an average of $7 million per season. With the deal back loaded plus a signing bonus, Branch's 2012 cap hit would likely be about $5 million. That would bring the Raiders' 2012 cap number down by $1.2 million. A figure which would nearly double the Raiders' cap space and likely give them all the money they needed to sign a couple players to fill those open roster spots.

Contract talks were said to be pleasant when we last spoke to Reggie McKenzie in early June at mini camps. The sense of urgency is now heightened because if they don't get a deal done in the next couple weeks, the Raiders will be saddled with his $6.2 million cap hit and there will be no further urgency to get the deal done.

Follow me on Twitter @LeviDamien or befriend me on facebook.

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