Earlier this off season, the Raiders used their franchise tag on starting strong safety Tyvon Branch. There were some who felt as though the Raiders did not have any players worth placing the franchise tag on, and if they were to use it, that they should have used it on Michael Bush. Reggie McKenzie obviously disagrees.
Rotoworld has reported that the Raiders are currently in discussions with Branch to extend his deal in order to ensure that he will be with the Raiders for more than just one more year. I highly doubt that McKenzie is a fly by the seat of your pants kind of general manager, so this was likely part of his plan all along. By placing the tag on Branch, it allowed McKenzie to guarantee that he would be the starting SS for the Raiders next season, and allowed McKenzie to focus on improving on other areas of the roster rather than spending the beginning of free agency attempting to prevent Branch from bolting for more money.
However, by placing the tag on Branch, McKenzie also limited his ability to do much in free agency due to the rather large cap hit that the franchise tag placed on the team. This goes to show even further how highly McKenzie values Branch. He was willing to work with less money on the free agent market so that he could rest easy that Branch would be coming back.
This was yet another smart move by McKenzie in my opinion. Branch is a very underrated player for the Raiders. He is a very solid tackler and a true ball hawk. Whenever a play ends, you are almost guaranteed to see Branch within five yards of the tackle. He is young and getting better, and I truly believe he will be in the Pro Bowl in the next few years.