The Oakland Raiders are a franchise in need of a lift and some tender loving care on the playing side of things, as the past few seasons have been anything but successful; on top of that, they lost their long-time owner, Al Davis, in October, last year.
But there appears to be some good news in the offing for the Raiders, in that they have just agreed a new four-year deal with premier safety, Tyvon Branch.
The contract is said to be worth $26.6 million, with $17.1 million in guaranteed money. Branch on a long-term deal is good news for the Raiders and their new rookie head coach, Dennis Allen, as he will need the versatile safety to make his defensive schemes work.
It has to be said that Branch has been outstanding during the last three seasons, emerging as a true playmaker at his position.
Branch has, and will continue to be, an integral part of the Raiders blitz packages, but he is also a force at the line of scrimmage, and can be relied on to supply stout run support in combination with his primary objective pass coverage.
Branch will be pivotal this year, especially for fans making NFL bets, as the Raiders move to a far more attack-minded and diverse defensive scheme than the one run by Chuck Bresnahan in 2011.
The way that safeties are involved in the play is now evolving and changing, especially as they need to be big and fast enough to cover the type of athletes played at wide receiver and tight end.
Safeties have now become more valuable to a defense than linebackers because of their superior coverage skills against spread formations. Branch’s diverse skill set will be needed this year by the Raiders, and we can see him creating some problems in matchups of his own.
With Branch in the fold, new general manager, Reggie McKenzie, has secured the future of one of the Raiders' brightest young stars, and an essential piece of their defence.
Up next for Oakland; the live in-play betting previews are predicting a close encounter between the Raiders and the San Diego Chargers, on September 11.