The Panthers have added a crucial piece to their front office, hiring Brandt Tilis as Executive Vice President of Football Operations. In this role, Tilis will work hand-in-hand with President of Football Operation/General Manager Dan Morgan. The duo, together, will address both the scouting side and the financial and analytical side of the front office duties. Tilis, with a background in finance, will oversee the cap and contract negotiations, among other duties.
As Tilis heads to the Queen City, get to know the Panthers' newest executive with these five facts.
Tilis worked his way up through the Chiefs financial side
Tilis has been with the Kansas City Chiefs since 2010, initially joining the franchise as a Salary Cap/Contract Analyst. He has spent the past 10-plus years working through the organization as the Director of Salary Cap & Football Operations Analytics (2014-16) and then Director of Football Administration (2017-20). He has been Vice President of Football Operations for the past three seasons.
Tilis interviewed the Panthers following the 2020 season for the open GM position. The Panthers hired Scott Fitterer for the vacancy, and Tilis stayed with the Chiefs, with the title change.
Tilis' background was shaped by finance
Tilis' career has been shaped by financial decisions and how they impact an organization. It makes sense, as that is Tilis' background, even preceding football. He graduated in 2007 from the University of Rochester with two degrees in economics and statistics, including a special citation in finance.
While in school, Tilis spent his summers working as an intern for the Oakland Raiders.
Tilis' knowledge has helped him become an authority on salary cap decisions, player contracts in relation to club resources, etc. He has been at the forefront of every contract decision and free-agent deal for the Chiefs since 2017.
Tilis is responsible for record breaking contract
Being at the forefront of those contracts means Tilis had his fingerprints all over one of the most significant contracts to reverberate across the NFL in recent years. In 2020, Tilis was behind the record-breaking contract for quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
The contract, which made waves and set a new precedent for valuing quarterbacks in the league, was a 10-year, $450 million-dollar deal. As the salary cap has expanded and quarterback deals have skyrocketed, Tilis' foresight with the Mahomes contract helped give the Chiefs security at what has become a good deal.
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach credited Tilis at that time with seeing the writing on the wall for the Mahomes contract, and using baseball deals as a blueprint, began preparing the Chiefs years ahead of time to take on a massive deal for their MVP quarterback. As early as 2017, well before Mahomes would even become a starter, Tilis laid out a plan for the Chiefs to be prepared when his massive deal would come due.
He loves the interpersonal side of the role
Much of Tilis' role with the Chiefs, and now with the Panthers, revolves around in-depth conversations with players, agents, and club personnel, each seeking the best for their interests. As the man at or near the top, so many can come to Tilis with requests at all times. It can be overwhelming, but Tilis says he approaches it with "radical authenticity," and being the same person in each interaction and situation.
The weight of responsibility is something he considers a privilege, though, telling the podcast "One Percent Better" last fall, "I like having the responsibility for the organization and other people … each conversation is a building block for what I need to do during offseason.
"I love the responsibility in knowing my role is contributing to our organization in a positive way."
He values of balance of methods
Following college and before joining the Chiefs, Tilis joined the NFL Management Council as an intern and then the Labor Operations Department. While at the league office, Tilis served as Labor Operations Coordinator. As he has risen the ranks in the NFL, he's seen the evolution of player evaluation as analytics have become more and more prevalent in scouting.
When the Chiefs would sit down each offseason to break down each draftable player and how that player could fit into the Chiefs organization, Tilis has pushed for an open dialogue that weighs both old-school methods of watching a player's tape and learning who he is off the field, with the more new age philosophy of breaking down his impact through every measurable metric.
"That's the billion dollar question, how to meld those two things," Tilis told the OPB podcast.