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Heat Turning Up On Russ Ball

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Heat Turning Up On Russ Ball

The decision by Ted Thompson not to renew Andrew Brandt's contract a few years ago was surprising if not a little controversial when it happened. At the time, there was no word from either camp regarding reasons for the change either than generic 'it was time to move on' platitudes. In Brandt's words to Cheesehead TV:

It was time.  The Cap is healthy for years to come; we had just hosted the NFC Championship game; the person I worked close with was named Executive of the Year.  All seemed well for the future.

It did indeed.

After letting the man most responsible for the Packers sterling reputation when it came to getting guys into camp (and, it should be noted, with Packer-friendly contracts) walk out the door, Thompson hired Russ Ball as his chief negotiator.

And so far, Ball is not producing what would be considered sterling results.

First, there was the Ryan Grant situation. Yes, it was incredibly unique. But the fact remains that Ball came at Alan Herman, Grant's agent, with a ridiculously low offer to begin negotiations which threatened to turn the whole affair contentious. And one can't help but draw the conclusion that Thompson and Ball caved into the pressure of the whole Brett Favre fiasco by signing Grant to a deal that, let's face it, was a bit more than Grant deserved.

Next, there was the Greg Jennings deal. I know, it's great that Jennings' is signed - everyone is happy about the Packers tying up their best young player. But look closer at the deal and you could make the argument that the Packers got taken. The contract nicely front loaded, roughly $16 million guaranteed, as is custom, but usually that money will earn the team some extra years. In Jennings' case, he's set to be a free agent again in three years. If Jennings continues his upward assent into the upper echelon of NFL wide receivers, and there's really no reason to think he won't, the Packers will be forced to dance this dance again only to a much faster beat.

And now, of course, there is the B.J. Raji mess.

Look, I know there's a whole mountain of stuff I don't know here. But it would seem at first blush as though Thompson might have made a mistake in letting Brandt go.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (34) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Mikey's picture

There were plenty of bad contracts signed on Brandt's watch. Plenty!

Ron La Canne's picture

Thank you Aaron, for coming to my way of thinking. See a variety of comments on Balz (once again, yes I am being disrespectful) and TT's negotiating skills. I can point to comments going back to pre-season 2008(Poppinga, Grant, Raji, et. al.). Nothing has changed! There is no prioritized, well planned approach, documented to better ensure a successful result. They are looking like the rank amatuers they are. Everything to them is a reaction not anticipation.

packeraaron's picture

Mikey - name one of consequence.

packeraaron's picture

"Everything to them is a reaction not anticipation." - can't say I agree 100 percent there Ron. Look at the Rodgers contract. Yes, it was a big contract for a guy who had only started 7 games, but you could make the case that by signing Rodgers when he did, Thompson struck a major bargain. Look no further than Eli Manning's deal. Yes, Manning has won a SB, but his contract will jack the price up on every other QB contract going forward. Rodgers looks like a relative bargain and will only get better.

Ron La Canne's picture

Remember that Rogers was on board 3 plus years before the contract and he got what Romo got, basically. An educated bet there. If Rogers goes the other way this year, all hell will break lose. I will say it was still a good bet at the time it was made. Risky, yes! Worth it, yes!

Ron La Canne's picture

Forget Raji, TT and Balz pull off the deal of the century - They sign Stryker Sulak (LB - Missoui). We can all breath easier now.

Check out Bedard's live blog! Large numbers held out of practice session call after 1 and 1/2 hours. Not enough receivers to make up twop sets. Humphery to the IR.

Is it time to worry about injuries?

mrj's picture

No. Third string TE on IR and the other injuries are OLBs with stingers that the team is holding back to keep from happening, and another guy is injured who we all expected to be injured ANYWAYS.

Franklin Hillside's picture

Did Ball cause all the injuries?

That bastard!

D.D. Driver's picture

Aaron: your question was directed at Mikey, but here's two: Wahle and Sharper.

AdamInEngland's picture

Spot on, although I doubt you can blame the Raji situation on him. A mix of Crabtree's and Raji's egos/agents are to blame there methinks.

wgbeethree's picture

now I liked brandt but I think that was exactly the reason TT let him go. brandt was friendly with the media and let people know what was going on with the team. good for the fans. not he way ted wanted things done. right or wrong if your boss tells you to STFU and just do your job and you continue to talk about the company's business with those outside of the organization you're going to have to face the repricussions. now if you would have asked me a couple months ago who was even the chief negotiator I don't think I could have told you and that seems to be exactly what TT wants.
as for the contracts that Ball (or Balz as our resident pessimist likes to call him) signed with rodgers, grant, and jennings I'm willing to bet that by this time next year all those contracts are going to look like absolute steals. There's already multiple players who have used those contracts as springboards to more lucrative deals and that is a cycle that will continue most likely. I'm also willing to bet that by the end of next season not one of those three will be in the top ten for pay at their positions but will very likely be for production. those do sound like forward thinking and fiscally responsible actions to me but then again I'm pretty much the anti-la canne when it comes to how I think the team is being handled.

D.D. Driver's picture

I mean the Packers were in salary cap *hell* under Sherman & Brandt.
Everyone is looking for a scape goat and Ball looks like a pretty handy scape goat right now, but let's take an honest look at the job Brandt did and not gloss over the fact that the Packers were squeezed pretty damn tight for a while.
I don't think he gets credit for Thompson cutting a bunch of players to clear salary cap space.

D.D. Driver's picture

Other bad contracts: KGB, Cleteus Hunt, Bubba Franks.

D.D. Driver's picture

Robert Ferguson.

Ruppert's picture

Brandt might not be King of the World, either. How come he stopped climbing the corporate ladder after the Pack axed him? So he could start a web site? Okay...
Also, could it possibly have been Brandt's fault that we didn't have enough cap space to bring Wahle back before his contract expired, practically ensuring his departure?

We probably shouldn't even form opinions about these guys...for all we know, they just present whatever the GM tells them to.

Asshalo's picture

Totally agree on jennings. That was a horrible contract. He's gona be due again in the prime of his career. Would have saved a lot of money if we would have locked him up longer.

In your buddy Bedard's story on Raji, he said 2/3 of the first rounders Ball signs hold-out. I can't but help think TT knew of his work history before signing the guy

AdamInEngland's picture

Rewind- I was with you Aaron but now DDD has reminded me of the pain that was KJB...

Franklin Hillside's picture

I have to agree with wgbeethree on the Rodgers, Grant, and Jennings deals. Those are going to look pretty good for the Pack...the Rodgers' deal was an absolute steal.

manolito's picture

Sorry, but how can anyone other than the inner cadre of execs speak with any authority on the nature of the negotiations as they stand now between the Pack and Raji, or as they stood in the past between the Pack and Grant's agent, or Jenning's agent? Rampant speculation on all of our parts to assume anything about what gets said when both parties sit down at the table in this context.

PackerAaron's picture

manolito - you can rest assured, I will never, ever, speak "with any authority" on any subject. ;)

PackerAaron's picture

DDD- I actually had a bit in there about Whale's second contract and how it was similar to what they just did with Jennings, save for the stupid money at the end of course.
As for the rest, the only one I think could really qualify as 'bad' is the Hunt deal. That was truly terrible. While frustrating, I don't think the KGB deal was horrible in so far as he was their only pass rushing threat. They simply got caught in a spot where the agent had the leverage. It happens. The Hunt deal, on the other hand, was indeed garbage.

manolito's picture

Aaron, appreciated. As someone who negotiates contract as part of his job regularly, I always have to chuckle when I hear folks opining on the subject without complete info.

Having said that, I'd sure like to see Raji get his big run-stuffing A$$ in camp!

Chicago Hooligan's picture

For what it's worth, Brandt wrote favorably of the Pack's decision to pay Jennings -

(and aside from just "starting a website" he's been negotiating deals for the Eagles this summer)

D.D. Driver's picture

Aaron, with some due respect, you are totally wrong about KGB. Some he was the only pass rush specialist, does that mean it would have been reasonable for the Packers to pay him $50 Million a year, 'cause "what else are they gonna do, he's the only pass rusher."
He was a part time player and the Packers gave him a huge contract that was so structured that it was impossible to cut him or twist him into restructuring for several seasons after it became clear that the Packers made a bad deal.

cow42's picture

Remember being a kid and getting pissed at THE PLAYERS when your team would lose?
Man, those were the days.
Now we're all over the GM, the coach, the guy who negotiates contracts, the team's PR department, the strength and conditioning coach... GEEZ!
Oh, to be a kid again... so much easier.

Mikey's picture

Add the immortal Joe Johnson to the list of poor contracts under Brandt's watch.

nerdmann's picture

I think one thing that had to do with Brandt leaving was the Retirement of Bob Harlan. After that fiasco with Jones, they needed to find someone, and either Brandt put his name in play or sided with the wrong people.
If a guy wanted to skip over you and be your boss like that, you can't keep him around. When there is a major change at the top, and you side with the wrong group, you go with them.

WoodyG's picture

All Brandt can muster up for employment these days is an occasional 'consulting' job & posting on a website. --- Listening to Aaron, you'd think teams would have been lining up to secure his services. The fact it hasn't happened answers all questions.
You need to stick to on-field football like defensive strategies, 40-times, combine numbers, etc.
You're in way over your head trying to analyze the hierarchy of an NFL team & to make matters worse, you have no inside info to form your theories.

DaveK's picture

Looks like the Raji deal is done....

I think I also remember Brandt wanting the head job. It might have been best to part ways in such a situation for both parties. I love his blog and the Packer insider info he gives us from the past. I was worried he would shut it down when he started consulting for the Eagles but that doesn't seem to be case so far.

Cletis's picture

You are assuming it was Thompson's decision to get rid of Brandt. How do you know that? (Please don't say its because Gregg Bedard "reported" so in his blog.) Brandt was a finalist for the GM job a year earlier. Its perfectly reasonable that he would not want to stick around long after that job was given to someone else.

bucky's picture

I guess all this bitching about TT and Russ Ball had the desired effect of getting Raji signed. Good work men!

MC's picture

Ted Thompson the personnel evaluator is a stud. Ted Thompson the leader/communicator is non-existent.


Every now and then he makes a move so freakishly counterintuitive that it's obvious to all parties --- fans, media, coaches, players --- that it's the wrong move. Re: The punting situation last year. The Brandt situation. There's others that I'm not recalling off the top of my head. There's some semblance of a pattern forming.

Shootz's picture

I can't really speak to a lot of these arguments as I think salary negotiations, more than any of the hidden games played throughout the league where there's more going on than fans will ever know about (along with playcalling, acquisitions, Dom Capers' hair wrangling etc), but just wanted to say I thought it was a really well written article today and well delivered argument. Certainly got me thinking.

Jayme's picture

WoodyG - He's also teaching a class or two at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown. I'm sure he's doing fine for himself.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but executive positions in the NFL are not the same as signing players. For the most part, there are qualified candidates that seek the job, not teams seeking out specific candidates. If he's not actively searching for a position, he won't get hired. Then again, who says that a team hasn't talked to him and he hasn't turn them down? It could have happened, there's no way to know.
Finally, after hearing an interview with him on the local Green Bay radio, I was under the distinct impression that he was upset that he didn't get the job and made his feelings known. I thought that he left the job primarily on his own, rather than the other way around. Now, I'm sure Thompson didn't do everything he could to accommodate Brandt, but I believe that Brandt's own actions in some way played a role in his departure. Then again, who am I to question McGinn's imaginary friends?

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