The Oakland Raiders are continuously being linked to free agent running back Cedric Benson, and for good reason. However, up to this point, the Raiders simply have not had the cap room to sign Benson. The Raiders still have two draft picks who have not been signed in Tony Bergstrom and Juron Criner, both of whom were important draft picks that must be signed. Today, however, news broke that could mean Benson still has a chance of wearing the Silver and Black in 2012.
Yesterday, Oakland Raiders' general manager Reggie McKenzie described talks between the team and strong safety Tyvon Branch as "on going". The Raiders have until Monday to ink Branch, who has signed his franchise tag, to a long term deal. Currently, Branch has a cap number of $6.2 million under the franchise tag. If both sides can agree on a long term deal, Branch's cap number for 2012 would likely be much smaller, freeing up money for free agents, such as Cedric Benson.
While the Raiders have a running back capable of being one of the best in the NFL with Darren McFadden, he has also shows a strong inability to stay healthy for a full season. In addition to the health concerns surrounding the starter, the Raiders also lost the best back up running back in the NFL this off season. Michael Bush, who was drafted by the Raiders, signed with the Chicago Bears as a free agent this off season. If the Raiders can get a deal with Branch done before the Monday deadline, it would make a ton of sense for them to go out and sign Benson.