The last seven days have been very eventful for a now-former Saints player, Junior Galette. The DE/OLB was released by New Orleans two days ago in the wake of a series of events (some reported, some not so much) that were too much to bear for head coach Sean Payton.
It’s easy to look at the Saints as victims here. After all, they had signed Galette to a hefty contract about a year ago on the heels of a big 2014 season (his ‘arrival’ was even saluted with a locker full of basketballs, courtesy of his teammates). They believed in him. They gave him his shot as an undrafted free agent, patiently coached him up and watched him flourish, then rewarded him.
The truth is that they took a calculated risk, and it’s one of the reasons they self-destructed last season. The Saints moved a lot of very talented players since last season, and the only explanation could be that they made the locker room a dysfunctional place. Galette has to have been part of that problem, but it’s not like Payton and Co. shouldn’t have expected this. His domestic violence incident just added fuel to the fire.
Galette got run out of Temple for a number of reasons, but there were whispers that one of them was that he punched a fan on the way off the field. Of course, everyone makes mistakes, but the point is that Galette didn’t seem to learn from them.
Leading up to the 2010 NFL draft, I heard stories about his behavior. Mind you, the one time you have to stay clean and sober-minded is during the 4-5 months before the draft, when every eye is on you. He couldn’t pull it off. I’m told he required daily 24-hour supervision during his pre-combine training, almost as if he were a toddler. In fact, one day when he was left unsupervised that winter, the hotel staff had to call his advisors, alarmed because he had disappeared, leaving his room strewn with drug paraphernalia.
Before his release, the Saints were a team with an unhealthy cap situation. Because they had to cut Galette so early in his deal, the team is in serious peril. Here’s how J.I. Halsell of NFLContractMetrics.com described what the team faces.
“When the Saints extended Galette’s contract in 2014, they guaranteed the 2015 12.5M roster bonus, meaning there was no way for them to get out of the 12.5M obligation. The only thing they could do to soften the cap blow was to convert it to a signing bonus in March of this year (which they did). From a cash payment standpoint, their hands were tied. The takeaway is that things obviously drastically changed from September 2014 to now. In Sept 2014, they felt comfortable committing to Galette through at least the 2015 season, but as we head towards the 2015 season, he’s now no longer a part of the team.”
At our 2015 ITL Seminar at the combine, former Bears GM Phil Emery said that every scout who wants to disallow a potential draft pick must ask himself the question, would you rather play with him or against him? That may be true, but there’s a major risk associated with adding players that have so thoroughly shown that they are a character risk.