|National Football League|
Raiders, Tyvon Branch agree to new 4-year deal
By ANTONIO GONZALEZ
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Tyvon Branch received the long-term deal he wanted and the Oakland Raiders got some financial flexibility in the process.
The Raiders agreed to a four-year contract with the safety on Saturday night, completing the deal two days before the deadline for franchise tagged players to reach an agreement on a new contract.
CBS Sports reported the contract is worth $26.6 million with $17.1 million guaranteed. The Associated Press left a message with Branch's agent seeking comment.
Branch had signed his $6.2 million franchise tender May 7 and reported to offseason workouts. The sides had until Monday to agree to a new deal.
Getting Branch signed was important for the Raiders, who are counting on him to be one of the leaders under a new defense run by coach Dennis Allen and coordinator Jason Tarver. The Raiders report to training camp in Napa on July 29, and now nothing will be holding Branch back from being in wine country.
Branch, a fourth-round pick in 2008, has started every game the past three seasons and led the Raiders in tackles the past two years. He also had 78 solo tackles, one sack, one interception, four passes defensed and one fumble recovery last season. Branch's 327 total tackles over the past three seasons are the second-most of any NFL defensive back, trailing only Indianapolis' Antoine Bethea, who has 340.
Branch also was much improved in pass coverage, cutting his completion percentage against from 67.4 percent in 2010 to 55.7 percent last season, according to STATS LLC, with the Raiders often using him as a cornerback in nickel packages.
Branch and free safety Michael Huff will anchor an overhauled secondary in Oakland this year. After years of running a defense based on aggressive man coverage under late owner Al Davis, the Raiders are expected to use more blitzes and zone coverages this season.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP
Updated July 15, 2012