The Oakland Raiders released strong safety Tyvon Branch after he missed the majority of the past two seasons with injuries. To replace him, they brought in Nate Allen — who spent the past five seasons playing for the Philadelphia Eagles — and gave him a four-year, $23 million contract with $11.8 million guaranteed to come to Oakland.
When looking at what the Raiders lost in Branch and what they are bringing in with Allen, you would be hard-pressed to see a huge difference. Branch is a guy who played well in run defense but often found himself lost in coverage and the exact same thing could be said about Allen’s time in Philly.
The upside is that while Allen gained a reputation for blown coverage with the Eagles, he has 10 career interceptions in five years to Branch’s four in seven years and has just as many forced fumbles. He also has a better injury history than Branch, with six games missed in five years. Branch only played in five games the past two years combined.
When looking at Pro Football Focus numbers, Branch’s best year was a +7.6 in 2011 and his worst year was a -0.2 in 2010. For Allen, his best season was in 2014 when he logged a +3.9 while his worst season was in 2012 when he received a -13.0 grade meaning his high wasn’t as high as Branch’s and his low was far worse.
While Branch’s injuries the past two seasons have been frustrating, it’s hard to see how Allen will be an upgrade. Their knocks are similar and while Allen may have more big play potential given the fact that he has had more than twice as many interceptions as Branch, he also had that truly bad 2012 season.
They say that a player’s best ability is availability and after two seasons of barely seeing any of Branch, hopefully just the fact that Allen seems to be able to stay healthy more often will mean something to the Raiders.