When the Oakland Raiders placed the franchise tag on strong safety Tyvon Branch, two things became clear.
First, Branch would remain with the Raiders for the 2012 season at a price of over $6 million. Second, free-agent running back Michael Bush's return next season was in serious doubt.
This is a telling sign for the Raiders.
Bush was an invaluable backup, who provided exceptional relief for starter Darren McFadden over the past four seasons.
In fact, since 2008, the year that both players were drafted by Oakland, Bush has played in more games at running back (61 to 45). With McFadden’s durability in question throughout his career, the Raiders could have opted to keep Bush as a safety net in case McFadden’s health wasn an issue again next season.
Instead, Oakland decided that the defensive side of the ball needed the most work—the most attention—this offseason.
Franchising Branch ensures that the 27th ranked defense from a season ago keeps its leader in tackles. It's an effort by Oakland to solidify some continuity after having already released another member of the secondary, Stanford Routt, earlier last month.
Clearly, the Raiders' focus so far this offseason has been their defensive personnel.
With that said, where does Bush go from here?
Let’s take a look at some possible destinations for Bush in 2012.