Tyvon Branch to Sign with Cardinals: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIMarch 9, 2016

Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Tyvon Branch (27) against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015. The Chiefs won 34-20. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

Veteran strong safety Tyvon Branch will be leaving the AFC West division for the first time in his NFL career after agreeing to terms on a contract with the Arizona Cardinals on Wednesday.

Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo reported that Branch's deal with Arizona is worth a maximum of $10 million over two years, with $5 million in guaranteed money. The Kansas City Star's Terez A. Paylor confirmed the deal.

Kent Somers of AZCentral.com added Branch's base salary is $7 million, with the aforementioned maximum of $10 million available through incentives.

Branch spent last season with the Kansas City Chiefs but had previously played for the Oakland Raiders from the time the team drafted him in the fourth round in 2008.  

After appearing in only five games combined during his last two years in Oakland, Branch finally managed to remain healthy this past year and played in all 16 games for the Chiefs.

But Kansas City had bigger offseason priorities on defense, particularly in the secondary with safety Eric Berry and free-agent cornerback Sean Smith. It simply couldn't afford to keep more of a depth player like Branch around for the cost the Cardinals paid.

Although Branch will turn 30 this season, he has plenty of faith in his ability to perform, saying this past Friday, per SiriusXM NFL Radio, "I'm excited what's to come in free agency. I can still play at a high level."

The Cardinals deploy an exotic defensive scheme that features a maverick, safety-turned-linebacker hybrid in 2014 first-round pick Deone Bucannon, who racked up 112 combined tackles last season.

Since Bucannon has settled into a role on the front seven, though, Arizona has been left thin at safety. With Rashad Johnson hitting free agency and Tyrann Mathieu just suffering a torn ACL this past December, the position is a big question mark heading into 2016.

There's a good chance Branch will compete for significant no matter what, because he could serve a role similar to Bucannon in sub-packages or on early downs. Branch put together a four-year stretch in Oakland from 2009 through 2012 when he averaged approximately 108 tackles per season.

That kind of nose for the football should serve Branch well as he embarks on the next phase of his career with what should be a championship contender during his time in the desert.