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The Numbers Guy

Andrew Brandt is the Packers VP of Player Finance and manages the Packers salary cap. He doesn't break or make the team by himself, but he is one of the guys who helps make everything work. I've never heard of a team running into trouble just because the guy who manages the salary cap screwed up, but I've always appreciated that Brandt appears to be pretty good at his job.

Dave Lubach did an interview with Brandt this week. Brandt wouldn't talk about the possibility of trading for WR Randy Moss or anything that newsworthy, but he made a couple of interesting comments.

"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."
Probably no team is roasted about their poor cap management as much as Washington. I'm no fan of their free agent spending either, but only because I dislike the players that they sign. They pay top dollar for big name free agent that are often below average players (Archuleta, Randle El to name two). Occasionally teams put themselves in a tight spot and are forced to release players they would have preferred to have kept, but that might not be a bad thing a season or two down the line. For example in Tennessee they had to release WR Derrick Mason and CB Samari Rolle before the 2005 season. Since then Mason has caught only 5 TD passes in 2 seasons, while Rolle's decline has been hid by the overall great Baltimore defense. The loss of Marco Rivera and Mike Wahle hurt the Packers deeply in 2005, but for 2006 and beyond they are probably better off without them.
"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."
This is Brandt's eighth year with the Packers so he probably doesn't remember a time when QB Brett Favre wasn't a major weight on the cap. Mike Sherman kept the team very tight against the cap every season he was in Green Bay. Only last season and this season have the Packers had any room. Signing draft choices will eat up a lot of the remaining room, and Thompson will sign some players eventually. If any room is left over, then it can go to extend contracts such as soon to be free agent LB Nick Barnett.

It is good to read that Brandt has the right philosophy about the cap and he knows how it should be used.