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Q&A: Packers negotiator Andrew Brandt

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Heatherthepackgirl, Mar 9, 2007.

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  1. Heatherthepackgirl

    Heatherthepackgirl Cheesehead

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    By Dave Lubach
    Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers

    Twenty seconds into the interview, the phone rings. Andrew Brandt, the Green Bay Packers’ vice president of player finance/general counsel, politely excuses himself to take the call.

    Brandt is a popular man these days. The NFL is one week into its free-agent period, and deals are being announced frequently.

    While the Packers haven’t been all that active, re-signing only defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins just before free agency began last week, this remains a busy time.

    Brandt, 46, took time between phone calls on Wednesday to address a gathering for Lakeland College’s sixth annual Charlotte and Walter Kohler Distinguished Business Lecture.

    Brandt is in his eighth year in Green Bay and his fifth in his current role as the Packers’ manager of the salary cap.

    Before addressing the group at Lakeland, Brandt spent a few minutes discussing free agency and other topics involving the Packers.

    Are you surprised at the money that’s been spent so far in free agency?

    Brandt: I’m not surprised at it, because there continues to be a fascination with signing the first day or first few days of free agency, making a big splash. That’s existed probably since the start of free agency years ago. In that way, it hasn’t changed. There continues to be a fascination with the hunt and kill of a big-name free agent. Is it surprising the amount of money spent? In some ways, yes, but in other ways, it’s expected, because when certain players are pursued by several teams, that’s the mother lode for the player.

    With Ahman Green signing with the Houston Texans, were you surprised at the money he received, and how does that change your situation at running back down the road with free agency and the draft?

    Brandt: That’s better answered by (General Manager) Ted Thompson, but we were in constant communication with Ahman before and during once free agency started. We were well aware what he was doing to the point of decision-making, which happened on Sunday, in the middle of my son’s 10th birthday party.

    With the Packers’ success late last year, and the money available under the cap, do you stray from the approach of building through the draft and try to win now, or stay the course?

    Brandt: You don’t get hung up on labels as to what philosophy you’re in. You do what’s best for the team. It sounds cliched, but it’s all about the greater good. The good includes the best product for the present and future, it doesn’t necessarily mean playing for the present or future. In my opinion, you can try to do both at the same time. We’ve seen examples of clubs that have quote, unquote “gone for it” and at the end of the year they haven’t quote, unquote “made it” and they have a mess to clean up. And that’s certainly not a way we want to end up.

    One of the things the Packers have mostly done the last 15 years is stay competitive with the changing of rosters. Is the key to staying successful being fiscally responsible?

    Brandt: A lot is made of cap room, and how much cap room there is. It’s really a fluid figure. There have been points in my career where we’ve had very little cap room, but made very big signings at the same time. When we signed (defensive end) Joe Johnson, who was one of our biggest free-agent signings, we were very much against the cap. It’s really business decisions more than cap room. It’s my responsibility to make the cap work and it was working then and now and hopefully it always works.

    Can fans expect that $20 million or so available under the cap to be used?

    Brandt: I think what people don’t realize is that the cap room doesn’t go away after the first couple weeks of March. Your cap room has to last from March 1 to Dec. 31. Last year, we used every penny of it and every year I’ve been here, we’ve used every penny of it. We’ve never left a dime of cap room on the table, and we don’t intend to do it again. That won’t be an issue.

    Is it tough to sit on your wallet when everyone’s throwing money around?

    Brandt: You have to trust your plan. And again, last year at this time, we were doing what you call sitting on your wallet, and two days before the draft, we made a huge signing with Charles Woodson at the end of April, and we’re in the first week of March. So there’s a lot of time left.

    Fans hear speculation about a Randy Moss trade and other rumors. When you hear things like that, what goes through your mind? When you try to make a trade like that, what things do you have to discuss?

    Brandt: I can’t talk about any specific trades or players, but obviously when we get involved with a potential player or a potential transaction or acquisition, with Ted Thompson, we go over the plan. I provide my insight about the cap and the future. But the key in any organization is getting everyone on the same page - administration, coaching, personnel, cap management, etc.

    When you have a player like William Henderson get released, who has been with the team so long and has given so much, how hard is it to separate friendship and business?

    Brandt: It’s tough. These are friends. They understand we have a job to do, but there’s a personal aspect to it, too. You have to keep it separate, especially in my position when you’re dealing with negotiations. You get to know these players a long, long time. William was one of the few players that was here when I got here eight years ago. One of the first things I did when I got here was William’s contract.

    Dave Lubach writes for the Sheboygan Press. Bob Petrie contributed to this report. E-mail Lubach at dlubach@sheboygan-press.com
     
  2. longtimefan

    longtimefan Super Moderator Staff Member Super Moderator

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