When the Oakland Raiders and Tyvon Branch agreed to a four year contract this weekend, the Raiders were able to free up $3.8 million in cap space. With the team looking to improve the roster with free agents, the newly added cap space is valuable. However, the cap space opened this season will cost the Raiders in 2013 when Branch's cap number balloons to $10.9 million.
“I knew that my signing would help the cap, but I play football,” Branch said after signing his contract. “I let my agent do all of the other stuff. I let him communicate with the front office guys. I just focus on my end and that’s playing football, working out, and being in shape.”
Nfl.com reports that Branch's salary cap numbers will be $2.4 million this season, as opposed to the $6.2 million he would have gotten if he played on the franchise tag, $10.9 million in 2013, $5.4 million in 2014, and $7.9 million in 2015.
Similar to this season when the Raiders had limited salary cap room the entire offseason, next year appears to be on par. With a huge hit from Branch, Oakland will have to release or restructure contracts to remain under the cap. The Raiders signed several one year contracts this season including Ron Bartell, Khalif Barnes, Shawntae Spencer, Phillip Wheeler, and Desmond Bryant. With Richard Seymour set to earn $7.5 million against the cap for the next four years, the Raiders will have to make a decision to keep or release the veteran next season. The cap situation not his play may be the deciding factor.
The Raiders structured the Branch deal and restructured several others to free up cap space this season. With that philosophy and the extra $3.8 million, look for the Raiders to actively pursue free agents they think will help the team.
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