Redskins General Manager Scot McCloughan is optimistic about his team’s depth at outside linebacker after re-signing Junior Galette earlier this month.
That optimism, though, is dependent one key factor that’s out of McCloughan’s control: Galette’s health.
Galette, who turns 28 on Sunday, suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in training camp last year and missed the entire 2015 season. The team is hopeful that Galette will come back as good as new, but McCloughan’s also been around long enough to know that making a full recovery can’t always be guaranteed.
“Well, we’ve got to see, coming off an injury at any part of your body,” McCloughan said. “But the Achilles for a guy’s explosion? It’s going to be interesting. That’s why the one-year deal from our standpoint made sense because, you know, does he still have the same twitch? Does he still have the same ability to get up field? I believe he does.”
Earlier this month, Galette signed a one-year ‘prove-it’ deal that could be worth as much as $4.1 million if he hits several incentives based on playing time, sacks and a Pro Bowl berth. The contract contains no guaranteed money.
“My standpoint is we have to take care of the organization,” McCloughan said. “I want good football players, and Junior’s a good football player. And we’ll see going forward. You’ve got to produce in the NFL to get a long-term deal.”
If Galette does return to form and produces—he hit double digits in sacks in 2013 and 2014 with the Saints— it will benefit the Redskins as well as his bank account. Not only will maximize the value of this year’s contract, he’ll position himself for a huge payday next offseason—with Washington or another team.
McCloughan, however, isn’t looking that far ahead. He’s focused on what Galette can potentially provide in 2016.
“We have [Ryan] Kerrigan who’s a really good football player. We have Preston [Smith] who's a good football player. You’ve got [Trent] Murphy who's a solid football player. And now you’ve got Junior. D-coordinators have to weigh, okay, who’s on the field? Okay, where are we coming from? And that’s important.”
“Pass rush” McCloughan added, “is huge in the NFL.”
And the potency of the Redskins' pass rush could hinge on Galette's health, which will no doubt rank as one of the biggest storylines this offseason.