Oakland Raiders: Who Will Earn Franchise Tag, Michael Bush or Tyvon Branch?

The period for NFL teams to designate players with franchise tags began yesterday. Each team is allowed to apply the tag to one player, who, as a result, will receive a one-year contract, avoiding free-agent status.

This year, however, is different than in years past. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the franchised player will no longer earn the average of the top five highest-paid players at his position. Instead, the league uses a formula that takes into account franchise-tag contracts from the previous five seasons.

The Oakland Raiders find themselves in a bit of quandary with regards to the franchise tag. Do they use it all? If so, which player do they use it on?

This offseason has seen an entire organizational upheaval, a direct result of the passing of longtime owner Al Davis last season. There is a fresh administration, headlined by new general manager Reggie McKenzie. As well as an innovative young coaching staff, featuring new head coach Dennis Allen.

This brand-new regime has many problems to address in its quest to restore glory to this proud organization.

Who should be tagged?

CSNBayArea notes that Oakland is $11 million over the salary cap, a rather hefty chunk of change. Even with the newly calculated franchise-tag salary under the CBA (refer to table), it’s still a rather pricey move.

The two free agents who the Raiders could tag are running back Michael Bush and safety Tyvon Branch. According to the new salary structure, tagging Bush would cost roughly $8 million, while tagging Branch would cost a little over $6 million for one season.

Bush is a hidden tricky situation. He has proven to be one of the more invaluable backup running backs, providing relief in the absence of starter Darren McFadden, who has suffered injuries in each of his four seasons in the NFL.

Thus, if Oakland gave Bush the franchise tag, he’d...

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