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.

Raiders OC Todd Downing: New weapons will 'make me look good'

Raiders OC Todd Downing: New weapons will 'make me look good'

STANFORD – Todd Downing has long been responsible for intently analyzing college quarterbacks entering the NFL Draft. He certainly did so during two seasons as Raiders quarterbacks coach, adding input to personnel department evaluations on young signal callers.

This offseason, he’s using a wide-angle lens. Downing is the Raiders offensive coordinator now, promoted to the position after Bill Musgrave was allowed to leave on an expired contract.

Coaches enter the draft evaluation process relatively late – they have a season to coach, after all – but Downing prides himself on working hard in evaluating talent. Working with general manager Reggie McKenzie’s staff, coaches feel like their voice is being heard.

That’s important to a coordinator especially, who must make a scheme work with talent around him.

“Reggie and his staff have always done a tremendous job of listening to our vision for the offense or the defense,” Downing said Thursday at Stanford’s pro day. “It’s been a joy to work with those guys over the past three years.

“(Head coach Jack Del Rio) really expects us to be accountable for our position group. Now that I’m the coordinator, there’s more of a broad scope when looking at offensive talent in the draft. When you work that hard (evaluating players), I think the scouts know that your opinion is well grounded, and that validates it a little bit.”

Downing is always on the lookout for weapons, especially while making tweaks to the Raiders offense. The Silver and Black found a few, adding tight end Jared Cook, receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, offensive lineman Marshal Newhouse and quarterback EJ Manuel.

Quarterback Derek Carr helped him get some. The full-time East Bay resident has been active recruiting free agents, trying to improve an already strong Raiders offense.

“You guys know how passionate he is about this game, and about this team and backing up this franchise,” Downing said. “(His involvement in recruiting) didn’t surprise any of us. He’s pretty hands on when it comes to football. He lives in the area, so he hopped in when we needed it and it paid off.”

Cook and Patterson especially could add dimensions to a well-rounded Raiders attack. Cook has made some big plays in the past, and should be a reliable receiving tight end the Raiders have lacked in recent seasons.

“He has a skill set that will be fun to play with (schematically),” Downing said. “We’re excited to see what he can do, and I know Derek is excited to add him. He has a history of making plays in this league, and that’s something we’re excited to have.”

Patterson’s primarily known as a kick returner – he’s a two-time All Pro on special teams – but the Raiders hope he’ll be active on offense.

“With guys like that, you just find a way to get them the rock and let them do the rest of the work,” Downing said. “They make me look good. I can call a simple play and he takes it the distance and it looks like I designed something special.”

Week after signing with Vikings, ex-Raiders RB Murray undergoes surgery

Week after signing with Vikings, ex-Raiders RB Murray undergoes surgery

A week after signing a deal with the Vikings, former Raiders running back Latavius Murray has undergone ankle surgery.

The Vikings made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.

Minnesota issued the following statement regarding the surgery:

"Vikings RB Latavius Murray had successful ankle surgery today. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bob Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina. We were aware of the required surgery prior to signing Latavius on March 16. Latavius is expected to fully recover and be available for training camp."

Murray's deal with the Vikings is reported worth $15 million over three years, but can reportedly be voied after the first year.

Drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Murray became the Raiders' primary running back midway through the 2015 season. In his three years in Oakland, Murray carried the ball 543 times for 2,278 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015.