The Oakland Raiders have an immense amount of cap space for the second year in a row, yet they could still end up asking their highest-paid player to take a pay cut this offseason. Strong safety Tyvon Branch signed a four-year contract extension ($10,100,000 guaranteed) with the Raiders before the 2012 season, but since then things have gone downhill for the once-promising player. Over the past two seasons, Branch has only played in five games after suffering season-ending injuries early each year.
The last thing the Raiders need is to create another hole, but there has to be some concern about Branch’s ability to stay on the field. When asked about the situation, general manager Reggie McKenzie said that he plans on talking with Branch’s agent about his contract.
Tyvon Branch has an uncertain future with Raiders. Reggie plans to speak with Branch’s agent soon to discuss possibilities.
— Scott Bair (@BairCSN) February 18, 2015
After missing almost two entire years due to injury, Tyvon Branch’s big contract will be looked at. Decision could be made soon.
— Jerry McDonald (@Jerrymcd) February 18, 2015
Because McKenzie converted Branch’s $6,000,000 salary in 2013 and $3,500,000 into a signing bonus to get cap relief, releasing Branch now would lead to a dead money hit of $6,671,000 according to Over The Cap.
Here’s what makes the situation even more curious: the Raiders will need to get in line with the cap minimum in the new CBA, which requires every team to spend 89% of the total cap number over a four-year period. The first two years of that period have passed with the Raiders only spending 80% of the cap, so they’ll need to go on a spending spree over the next two seasons in order to meet the minimum..
Branch has been frustrating for the Raiders over the past two seasons, but given all of the needs on the roster and the fact that there is no concern about going over the cap, it seems odd that the Raiders are choosing to make Branch’s contract a priority at this time.