Tyvon Branch: Defense, contender status led me to Arizona

Mar 15, 2016, 7:01 PM
Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Tyvon Branch (27) lines up against the Arizona Cardinals during t...
Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Tyvon Branch (27) lines up against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
LISTEN: Tyvon Branch, Cardinals' Safety

The Arizona Cardinals did not necessarily make headlines when they signed safety Tyvon Branch away from the Kansas City Chiefs, but in making the move they added a versatile defensive back who they believe will help improve an already strong secondary.

Last season, Branch recorded 40 total tackles with one interception, one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a pair of defensive touchdowns in his first season with the Chiefs after spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Oakland Raiders.

His decision to leave the AFC West and join the Cardinals was a pretty easy one.

“They’ve got a solid team,” he told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday. “Ten-plus wins the past three seasons; Carson Palmer is obviously a great quarterback (and) in this league if you have a great quarterback you have a chance to win it all.

“So that was kind of like the big thing to me. Then the defense is exciting, they make a lot of big plays and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Talking about Branch at the Arians Family Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic last Sunday, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said the 29-year-old is someone they’ve known about for a while.

“He’s a very versatile, fast safety who can play man-to-man,” Arians said. “If you go back and you watch the Chiefs and the Patriots, he was locked on (Rob) Gronkowski. He’s that type of safety and you can’t have enough of them.”

A fourth-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft out of Connecticut, Branch has appeared in 75 games and collected 461 tackles (355 solo), eight sacks, four interceptions, four fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles. The 6-foot, 210-pound safety was timed at 4.31 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine, and that’s a mark he said he’d like to think he can still run. Even if he can’t, Branch certainly does not lack for speed.

In terms of role, Branch said he has not been told much yet, but he understands a safety in today’s NFL must be able to play in the box, cover receivers and tight ends and give help over the top.

“That type of versatility, I mean, I think that’s the standard right now in the league, that’s what everybody’s looking for,” he said.

The Cardinals were, and they believe they have found a player like that in Branch. He is confident he excels at exactly what Arizona needs, which is one of the reasons he signed.

“I cover slots, I cover tight ends and if they want to blitz me or anything like that, I have those capabilities as well,” he said.

The contract Branch signed is for $8 million over two years, with the potential for it to be worth as much as $10.75 million if certain incentives are reached. It is a solid deal, but Branch said other factors contributed to his decision to head to the desert.

“Different people have different motivations, obviously, but with me, I wanted to go to a good team and I wanted to have a chance to be a part of the defense and make plays,” he said. “With the conversations I had with the teams that I was choosing from, the conversations I had with the Cardinals I felt was the best fit for me.”

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Tyvon Branch: Defense, contender status led me to Arizona