Q: How important was it for you to get this deal worked out before you got to training camp?
Branch: It was one of those things that I felt was important but it wasn’t a distraction. I already signed my tender. I already got back to work so it was one of those things where I knew I was going to be a part of the team so I wasn’t really worried about it.
Q: How confident were you that a deal would get done?
Branch: I hoped that a deal would get done. I love playing for the Raiders. It’s a great organization; I think we’re taking steps in the right direction and I want to be a part of it, so I wanted to get the deal done. I’m excited about it.
Q: Did it enter your mind at all that it was important to sign a long-term deal so that the Raiders cap number would come down and they’d be able to sign some free agents?
Branch: I knew that my signing would help the cap, but I play football. I let my agent do all of the other stuff. I let him communicate with the front office guys. I just focus on my end and that’s playing football, working out, and being in shape.
Q: Does having a long-term deal give you more peace of mind in terms of not having to play out a free agent year?
Branch: Yes, definitely. It gives you that ability to know that you’ll be around, producing for the next couple of years. It definitely gives you peace of mind and it’s one of those things you don’t have to worry about anymore. You know where you’re going to be.
Q: You had a pretty good year last year. How much better can you get in the coming years?
Branch: I think the sky is the limit. As long as you work hard, put forth the effort, and you want to become great, I think the sky is the limit. I’m just going to keep working and hopefully I can improve my game.
Q: How much do you think the new defense is going to help you out personally?
Branch: I think it’s going to help the team out. It gives us a lot of different looks, lets us mix things up and keep the offense guessing, so I think it’s going to help the team out.
Q: Do you compare yourself against other top safeties in the game? How much of that do you look at from year to year?
Branch: I don’t really focus on that. I focus on what I’m doing here, working on helping our team get better and what roles they need me to play in order for our team to get better. That’s all I focus on. Different safeties have different roles in different defenses so it’s hard to compare yourself to different players on different teams.
Q: Was there a point during the contract process where you really felt like you had reached a turning point and the deal was going to get done?
Branch: I really didn’t have a hands-on role in it. My agent played the biggest part in it and he kept telling me that conversations were very friendly and he felt a deal would be done.
Q: What are you personal goals for this season?
Branch: I don’t really have any personal goals, I just want to win. Whatever it takes to win, I’m all about winning. That’s the most important stat and whatever it’s going to take for us to get in the big dance. We want to be a part of the tournament this year, get in the playoffs, so whatever it takes for us to get there.