The Raiders and strong safety Tyvon Branch have agreed to a more cap-friendly four-year contract ahead of Monday's 1 p.m. PT deadline, according to CBSSports.com.Per the report, the deal is worth a maximum of 28 million with incentives, 26.4 million without, with 17.6 million guaranteed. Branch will make 16.1 million in the first two years of the deal.
Branch had signed his franchise tag, worth 6.212 million, earlier this offseason.Neither the Raiders nor Branch's agent have confirmed the signing yet, though.A long-term contract for Branch would free up salary cap room for the Raiders, who had a reported 1.34 million in salary cap room at the end of June. The Raiders still need to sign two of their six draft picks in third-rounder offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom and fifth-round supplemental pick wideout Juron Criner.But the space afforded Oakland by a Branch contract would seemingly free up money to pursue a veteran free agent such as running back Cedric Benson andor linebacker E.J. Henderson.A fourth-round pick of Oakland out of Connecticut in 2008, Branch is expected to be one of the leaders on the Raiders' revamped defense. He has started every game since 2009 and has led the team in tackles the past two seasons. In fact, his 327 total tackles over the past three seasons is the second most in the NFL among defensive backs, behind only Indianapolis' Antoine Bethea's 340 tackles.
In 2011, Branch had 78 solo tackles, one sack, an interception, four passes defensed and a fumble recovery.
Where Branch improved dramatically, though, was in pass coverage, dropping his "burn rate" from 67.4 percent in 2010 to 55.7 percent last season.