ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) The Oakland Raiders will release safety Tyvon Branch before the start of the new league year next month.
The team told Branch of the plans Thursday to cut ties with one of Oakland's longest-tenured non-specialists.
Branch joined Oakland as a fourth-round pick out of Connecticut in 2008. Branch immediately became an impact player and started 62 of 64 games from 2009-12. He was slowed by injuries the past two seasons and played only five games. He had one year remaining on his contract.
Branch joined the Raiders with running backs Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece. The only other players on the roster with more continuous service are kicker Sebastian Janikowski and long snapper Jon Condo.
''It was a blessing to play for the Raiders (and) wearing that shield was special to me,'' Branch wrote on his Twitter account. ''Thanks to the Davis family for giving me a chance!''
Branch was one of the few players acquired by late owner Al Davis that general manager Reggie McKenzie tried to build around after taking over the team in 2012.
McKenzie placed the franchise tag on Branch and ultimately signed him to a four-year contract to be part of the foundation of the team. But Branch only had one healthy season after that and was deemed expendable after Brandian Ross and Larry Asante showed promise in his place last season.
Branch was a physical safety who offered strong run support early in his career. But he suffered a season-ending neck injury in the second game of the 2013 season and broke his foot in the third game last season and did not return.
Branch has four interceptions, eight sacks, 19 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in 75 career games.
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