By Steve Corkran
Thursday, March 7th, 2013 at 2:23 pm in Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders freed up $5 million or so in salary cap room by restructuring the contract of starting strong safety Tyvon Branch on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The Raiders reduced Branch’s base salary from $6 million to $715,000 for 2013. In exchange, the Raiders tacked on two seasons to the four-year contract Branch signed last season.
Branch still is in line to earn $6 million in 2013, in large part because of a $3.5 million roster bonus the Raiders honored. The saving comes in the form of reducing Branch’s cap figure from $10.9 million to approximately $6 million.
Branch’s salaries for 2014 and 2015 remain unchanged. However, he now is slated to earn $6.5 million in 2016 and ’17.
Branch was the Raiders franchise-tag player last season. The long-term contract he ultimately signed superseded the franchise-tag designation and ensured the Raiders keeping Branch in the fold for the next several seasons.
The Raiders now are more than $6 million under the cap, giving them some much-needed ammunition to re-sign some of their own prospective free agents, as well as some from other teams that are about to hit the open market Tuesday.
Earlier this week, the Raiders freed up more than $2 million by restructuring the contract of right guard Mike Brisiel.
Several other players are being targeted for restructured deals, as well, including quarterback Carson Palmer, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, free safety Michael Huff and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.