A kick in the stomach

Brandt's departure will affect Packers' front office, says PackerReport.com's Matt Tevsh

Can it get any worse for the Packers these past two weeks?

First, they blow a chance to go to the Super Bowl by losing the NFC Championship at Lambeau Field, and then, just eight days later, they lose arguably their most valuable front office person.

When the Packers announced on Monday that Andrew Brandt, vice president of player finance/general counsel, was leaving his post to seek a new, but yet to be determined challenge, it was as shocking as the Giants' 23-20 victory that ended the Packers' season. Brandt's departure is major blow to the organization and is a tough way to start the off-season.

If anyone thinks Brandt can be replaced, they are sorely mistaken. Brandt was nothing short of a genius at his job. He spun numbers and solved potential problems like he was Will Hunting.

Primarily known as the salary cap wizard, Brandt had the Packers in great financial shape in each of his nine years with the team. He always found creative ways and made sound decisions to get the team under the cap and always locked up appropriate contracts for core players long before they hit the free agent market. A list of such players includes starters Nick Barnett, Chad Clifton, Donald Driver, Al Harris, Aaron Kampman, Mark Tauscher, and Scott Wells. In 2001, he worked on an extension and cap-friendly deal for Brett Favre to ensure the three-time MVP would retire with the Packers.

While many NFL teams since the current free agency era began (1993) have gone through a period of salary cap hell after a few years of on-the-field success, the Packers never encountered such a problem. Even after suffering their first losing season in 13 years in 2005, they quickly put together a competitive team finishing an impressive 13-3 this past regular season. More winning seasons are expected.

Each year during their unprecedented run of success, the Packers had the financial flexibility to not only improve, but also solidify their roster in the off-season. What ex-Packers financial guru Mike Reinfeldt began under head coach Mike Holmgren in the mid-1990's, Brandt almost impossibly improved upon through three coaches and three general managers thereafter.

Brandt's multi-functional background, which included time as a player representative and as a general manager (of the World League's Barcelona Dragons in 1992), gave him a unique perspective in negotiating contracts. As a result, the Packers had few problems with rookie holdouts or with pursuing free agents they wanted from other teams.

After being seriously considered this past year to become the next Packers' president, Brandt, 47, probably hit a road block in his career with the Packers. Even though he said in published reports that he was not bitter about being passed over for the job, he should want to pursue another avenue at this stage in his life. He has already proven by his track record that he is wired for higher success.

"After nine years of having the privilege of working for the Green Bay Packers and its incredible fan base," explained Brandt through a team press release, "I have decided it is time to move on to pursue other opportunities, goals and challenges."

Professional football has become as much about money off the field as it is about performance on it. Brandt managed money issues better than anyone else in the league with his job, and for that, his departure hurts as much as any playoff loss does.

Matt Tevsh is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at matttevsh@hotmail.com.

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