Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/7/12

Safety Tyvon Branch signed his one-year tender as the Raiders' franchise player, guaranteeing him a base salary of $6.2 million next season.

Branch, 25, has started 48 straight games and had 78 tackles, 29 assists and an interception in 2011, his fourth season in the NFL.

Branch, the Raiders' leading tackler and a physical presence for three seasons, has improved markedly in pass coverage. He broke up the Vikings' final pass of the game in a Raiders win in Minnesota and has been difficult to pass on after being victimized often last season.

"He was a guy they couldn't let go," longtime league personnel man Ken Herock, who served as one of the consultants to new Oakland owner Mark Davis, told The Sports Xchange in March. "The best player in their secondary, even if (some fans) didn't know about him."

Another one of the former team officials who counseled owner Mark Davis, termed Branch "a building block no one knows about." But, obviously, pro scouts around the league knew about the former fourth-round draft pick, and he rated nicely at a position that hasn't always been a priority for many clubs.

In three years as a starter, Branch has averaged 112.3 tackles and, while he has just three career interceptions and isn't regarded as a premier playmaker, brings the kind of intensity that Raiders need on a defense that finished a disappointing No. 29 statistically in 2011.

PLAYERS: Tyvon Branch
TEAMS: Oakland Raiders
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