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Raiders, Branch in contract conundrum

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Tyvon Branch #33 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates after he sacked Caleb Hanie #12 of the Chicago Bears
Tyvon Branch #33 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates after he sacked Caleb Hanie #12 of the Chicago Bears

The Raiders and Tyvon Branch have until Monday to get a long term deal done. If it doesn't happen by then, the two sides will not be able to discuss a deal until after the season. This would also mean the Raiders are on the hook for the $6.2 million salary the franchise tag designation gives Branch.

The Raiders are in a tight spot here. They need to reach a deal with Branch to lower his cap his this season. Branch's camp is well aware of the situation and they are undoubtedly playing it to their advantage.

There have not been a lot of updates on the contract situation of late. The only thing we have heard came via a source who told Paul Gutierrez of CSN Bay Area the two sides were "progressing", however modest that progress might be.

There could be a number of sticking points in the deal, with money of course being the key. But it seems to me the sticking point in contract length more than actual money.

This offseason, the team has put an emphasis on short contracts. They have extended a couple of deals as a means of restructuring which was also a necessity to get under the salary cap. Branch is very likely looking to get a lengthy deal as well.

My guess is the sticking point is the team's reluctance to give Branch the length of deal he would like.

With the new regime and the complete change in scheme, they need to see who can perform within their system. McKenzie said he will not let the Raiders be in cap jail in future seasons and shelling out big long term contracts are a quick way to end up right back where they are now.

If Branch doesn't play up to the level he has in the past few years in this new scheme, the Raiders will either have to cut him and eat a large sum of future guaranteed money, or keep him and try to get some of their money's worth.

These issues and concerns are what is holding up the deal from getting done. I foresee this coming right up to the deadline with both sides conceding on their stances. Branch will probably have to settle for something like four years instead of five and the Raiders will have to pay a bit more guaranteed money.

The Raider currently have just $1.34 million to spend under the cap. They would like to add a couple free agents and they can't do that without this deal getting done. They also still need to sign their third round pick, Tony Bergstrom, and fifth round compensatory pick, Juron Criner.

They currently have 88 players on the roster and are allowed 90. Without lowering their cap figure, those last two spots will either be league minimum camp bodies or simply go unfilled.

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