Big shoes to fill

Brandt's departure leaves Packers without a key administrator as free agency approaches

The Green Bay Packers announced today that Andrew Brandt, the team's contract negotiator and salary cap manager for the past nine years, will be leaving the organization. Both sides are parting ways on good terms in order to allow Brandt to pursue "other opportunities."

For those unfamiliar with Brandt and his duties, he has been instrumental in preventing the Packers from, like he has said many times, "slipping into salary cap hell." And he's done a great job, too.

While some NFL teams have not been able to pursue players because of the cap, or have had to dump players in order to get under the cap, the Packers have rarely gotten into a major bind. Brandt's advice on salary cap matters to general manager Ted Thompson and president Bob Harlan no doubt has had a lot to do with the Packers' ability to stay competitive. The Packers have only finished with less than a .500 record once (2005) since Brandt was hired by then-general manager Ron Wolf in February of 1999. A former player agent, Brandt has been able to work many deals that have been salary cap friendly and have allowed the team to win games.

"We want to thank Andrew for his contributions the last nine years," said Thompson. "We appreciate his fine work in the area of contract negotiations and salary cap management. He will be missed. The Green Bay Packers wish him the very best in his future endeavors.

"With regard to contract negotiations and salary cap management, we currently have people in place internally to effectively operate in this area until we have a new person to fill this role."

The sooner the Packers can fill Brandt's shoes, the better. Free agency will get under way in early March. Though the Packers have not been very active in free agency in recent seasons, the team may want to consider extending contracts of some of its current players, like running back Ryan Grant and defensive tackle Corey Williams. Grant's contract will not expire till after the 2009 season, but he has outplayed it thus far. Williams, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, probably will be commanding more money than the Packers are willing to pay, but with some creativity, maybe they can get him to stick around Green Bay.

Creativity is one of Brandt's assets, along with his calm demeanor. The Packers were very creative with running back Ahman Green and the incentive-laden one-year contract that he signed prior to the 2006 season, and Brandt played a big part. Brandt also was instrumental in recent contract extensions for cornerback Al Harris and wide receiver Donald Driver. Both deals are filled with incentives that are good for the players and friendly to the team's salary cap.

Because of his experience as a former agent, Brandt, 47, has usually been able to get all of Green Bay's draft picks signed before the start of training camp. Aside from a few recent first-round picks who missed one or two practices at the start of camp, Green Bay's draft picks were signed on the practice field. An attorney, he also has handled football-related legal matters for the organization.

It will be a challenge for the Packers to find someone with Brandt's ability and experience. He has a warm personality and is very intelligent. It wouldn't be a surprise to think that he has other offers on the table, and not necessarily related to football. The Packers will miss him.

Todd Korth is managing editor of PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at packrepted@aol.com.


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