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Cardinals Sign Tyvon Branch

Posted Mar 10, 2016

Veteran safety inks two-year deal as Rashad Johnson schedules Titans visit

New Cardinals safety Tyvon Branch signs his contract Thursday.

Tyvon Branch knows little about his role for his new team, after the Cardinals signed him to a two-year contract Thursday.

The veteran safety was told the team likes his versatility, but that he’d wait until the season to “see how everything unfolds.”

It’s possible the path could unfold sooner than that, however. As Branch was signed, news came that starting safety Rashad Johnson, himself an unrestricted free agent, is taking a visit to the Tennessee Titans. If Johnson were to leave, the Cardinals would have a hole in the secondary. Fellow safety Tony Jefferson, a restricted free agent, is also exploring his options, although any offer sheet he were to sign would have the chance to be matched by the Cards.

Bringing Branch in, then, makes sense. Terms of his deal weren’t announced but multiple reports have Branch earning $7 million, including $5 million in guarantees. At this point, he is the only free agent the Cardinals have signed.

“I have great confidence in (GM) Steve (Keim) and (Bruce Arians) and their staffs,” team president Michael Bidwill said. “They do a great job. You look at some of the decisions that were made two years ago in free agency, in which players on the first day got enormous contracts, many of those players haven’t worked out the way the hype around them … it just doesn’t support it.

“We try to make the right decisions and not get into the frenzy. We also make sure we are focused on getting the players that fit and make smart decisions about the money. It’s not just one player that can win the Super Bowl for you.”

Branch is one of those pieces. Keim and Arians have both said they wanted to get longer and faster in the secondary. Branch is only 6-foot (and 210 pounds) but he ran a 4.26 40-yard dash when he came out for the 2008 draft.

“Am I as fast as I used to be?” Branch said. “I like to think so.”

Branch, 29, played in Kansas City for one year after seven seasons in Oakland. In 16 games – one start – for the Chiefs, Branch had 43 tackles, a sack and an interception. Branch was a long-time starter with the Raiders, but played in just five games his final two seasons in Oakland because of a broken leg and broken foot.

It made this go-round in free agency different than last year.

“I think I proved I can still play at a high level when I get the opportunity,” Branch said.

Johnson isn’t the only free agent from the Cardinals looking around. Guard Ted Larsen is drawing reported interest from the 49ers and Seahawks, and Seattle is apparently looking at tackle Bradley Sowell as well. Tight end Jermaine Gresham is also visiting the Bears, while linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is taking a visit to his old team, the Falcons.

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