Raiders place franchise tag on Branch

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Raiders place franchise tag on Branch

The Raiders applied their franchise tag on strong safety Tyvon Branch in advance of Monday's deadline, the team made official on their website Thursday.

We are pleased that Tyvon will return to the Raiders in 2012, general manager Reggie McKenzie said in a statement. Tyvon is a talented, productive player who we hope will be wearing the Silver and Black for many years to come. We will continue to work on a long-term deal to make that happen.
The tag for safeties is expected to be between 6.22 million and 6.459 million, not exactly a king's ransom for a front-line defensive player, but just enough to raise some eyebrows for a franchise already needing to shed some 22 million by March 13 to get in compliance with the NFL's thus far-unannounced salary cap. It was just over 120 million last season.

Tagging Branch, 25, who led the Raiders with 109 tackles last season, seems to spell an end to the tenure of the Raiders' other most valuable unrestricted free agent -- running back Michael Bush, who replaced the injured Darren McFadden in Week 7 and ran for a team-high 977 yards, averaging 4.3 yards per carry after becoming the starter.GUTIERREZ: Which big contracts will Raiders restructure?
But he seemed to wear down at the end of the season and the franchise tender for running backs is expected to be between 7.778 million and 8.088 million. Plus, the Raiders seem to have faith that McFadden, who is due to make 5.65 million in base salary in 2012 and has a salary cap number of 9.478 million, is healthy again.New coach Dennis Allen is a defensive-minded coach, one who cut his teeth coaching the secondary in New Orleans. So he obviously sees something he can mold with the play-making Branch.With Branch, the Raiders have used the franchise tag in four of the past five years -- on linebacker Kamerion Wimbley last year, before restructuring his deal, on defensive tackle Richard Seymour in 2010 and on cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha in 2008.Branch had a breakout season in 2011. Besides leading the Raiders in tackles, he also had an interception and was a Pro Bowl alternate.His becoming the focal point of Allen's defense might also mean the end of Michael Huff's time in Oakland. Huff, who has a base salary of 4 million, has a 4-million roster bonus due on March 15 and a salary cap number of 9,828,750 for 2012.

McKenzie: Marshawn Lynch 'already entrenched' in Raiders locker room

McKenzie: Marshawn Lynch 'already entrenched' in Raiders locker room

Marshawn Lynch took some time to agree on contract terms with the Raiders. The Oakland native formally joined the Silver and Black a day before the NFL Draft, which served as a soft deadline for his commitment to unretire and join his hometown team.

The Raiders have been pleasantly surprised by Lynch since acquiring his rights from Seattle on April 26, starting with unbridled enthusiasm upon signing his new contract.

He reported to the Raiders offseason program in tremendous shape despite being out of football in 2016, and has been a full participant in workouts he was apathetic towards in Seattle. Lynch has also fit right in to the Raiders locker room culture since joining the club.

“He has been great,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said Thursday in an interview with 95.7-The Game. “He has been great in meetings. He has been great on the field. He’s going well in terms of his physical progress. He’s doing quite nicely and we think he’s going to be a great help on the field.

“Off the field, he has meshed very well with the team and is already entrenched as one of the guys. It’s going well with him.”

While it took some time to navigate a complex acquisition process, McKenzie said it went relatively smooth.

“Prior to getting him, I had no setbacks thinking he was not going to be able to get here,” McKenzie said. “My communication with Seattle and Marshawn’s people was great. Everyone indicated that he wanted to play. That’s all we needed to know. The fact he wanted to be a Raider was icing on the cake. We went through the process and got it done. He’s excited, and so are we.”

The Raiders now have a deep running back group. Lynch’s physical rushing style is the focal point of an attack that also features smaller, elusive rushers Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Those guys will run behind a productive offensive line considered among the NFL’s best.

Board unanimously approves conditional lease for Raiders stadium in Vegas

Board unanimously approves conditional lease for Raiders stadium in Vegas

LAS VEGAS -- The public board that oversees the proposed stadium where the Raiders want to start playing in 2020 on Thursday unanimously approved a conditional lease agreement for the facility after months of negotiations that were affected by the sudden exit of an instrumental financial backer of the $1.9 billion project.

The Las Vegas Stadium Authority board was running up against a deadline to approve the lease to avoid delaying the team’s relocation by a year, as NFL owners gathering next week in Chicago plan to take up the document. It addresses various aspects related to the 65,000-seat stadium, including insurance, repairs, maintenance, naming rights and a rent-free provision.

“We got to the finish line in time, but we didn’t start real well, and obviously, that kind of set off some events,” board chairman Steve Hill said after the meeting. “We lost six weeks in the process, but we made up for it, the Raiders made up for it, and we are here today where we need to be.”

The six weeks were lost after casino mogul Sheldon Adelson withdrew his multimillion-dollar pledge from the project just days after the first draft of the lease agreement, which included a $1 annual rent, was unveiled in January. The billionaire’s move sent the team searching for $650 million to fill the financial gap he created.

The team ended up securing a loan from Bank of America. Guests of hotels and other lodging facilities in the Las Vegas area are contributing $750 million through a room tax increase, while the Raiders and the NFL all along have been expected to contribute $500 million.

The document approved Thursday to the cheers of workers in the Laborers Union and others is conditional upon other agreements being reached between the team, the board and other entities. The team would not pay rent under the 30-year agreement, but it would have to contribute to a fund that would cover capital expenses that come up as the facility ages.

The agreement also gives the team the right to name the stadium and prohibits any type of gambling in the premises.

Next on the board’s priority list is an agreement that would allow the football team of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to use the facility. The team also has to figure out parking options for the stadium that will be built near the Las Vegas Strip, west of the Mandalay Bay casino-resort. The land they recently purchased is not big enough to accommodate the one-spot-per-four-seats county requirement.

Raiders President Marc Badain said the design for the stadium has been finalized, but renderings will not be unveiled immediately.

“It’s going to be spectacular,” he said after the lease was approved. He added that the team has heard from entities interested in the stadium’s naming rights.