The Raiders on Thursday placed the franchise tag on strong safety Tyvon Branch, which makes it unlikely that running back Michael Bush will be back next season.
Teams are permitted to use the franchise tag on only one player. Branch received that designation Thursday afternoon in a move confirmed by the Raiders a few minutes ago.
“We are pleased that Tyvon will return to the Raiders in 2012,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said in a press release. “Tyvon is a talented, productive player who we hope will be wearing the silver and black for many years to come. We will continue to work on a long-term deal to make that happen.”
Phone calls to Branch’s agent, Andrew Baker, and Branch were not returned.
Going the franchise-tag route guarantees Branch approximately $6.2 million for 2012 if he signs the one-year tender. The Raiders and Branch also are free to work out a long-term contract over the next few months.
It would have cost the Raiders $7.7 million to slap the franchise tag on Bush, which is slightly more than $2 million north of McFadden’s base salary for 2012.
Bush has said in the past that he wants a chance to be a starter and that he realizes that won’t happen in Oakland as long as Darren McFadden is on the roster.
Bush filled in for an injured McFadden the final 10 games last season – McFadden suffered a severe foot sprain in the Raiders seventh game — including starts in the last nine.
He rushed for a career-high 977 yards and showed that he is capable of being a lead back in the NFL. There are several teams in need of a back of Bush’s caliber.
McFadden is back to working out at the team’s facility, according to new coach Dennis Allen. He and second-year back Taiwan Jones are the primary backs as of now, though it’s conceivable the Raiders will add a veteran in free agency.
Branch enjoyed a breakout season in 2011, when he posted 109 tackles and intercepted one pass. He started all 48 games the past three seasons.
Follow me on Twitter: @corkonthenfl