RICHMOND—The Redskins have rolled the dice and signed former Saints pass rusher Junior Galette, according to his agent. The contract is for one year at the league minimum salary of $745,000.
Adding Galette instantly upgrades the Redskins’ pass rush, which finished last season tied for 21st in sacks. But talented 27-year-old also brings baggage. A lot of it.
Galette was released last week by the Saints after being paid a $12.5 million bonus in March because the team decided that his troubles off the field and brash personality outweighed his on-field productivity.
In 2013 and 2014, Galette racked up a total of 22 sacks. He also amassed 45 quarterback hurries last season.
The NFL, however, is investigating Galette’s January arrest for alleged domestic violence incident; the charges were later dropped. The league is also looking into a two-year-old video that allegedly shows Galette striking a woman with a belt during a group altercation on a beach. It’s unclear if he’ll face any discipline from the NFL.
Since Galette’s release, the Redskins have been talking to people who know the player in an attempt to figure out whether he’s worth the risk.
Galette, who suffered a pectoral muscle injury earlier this summer that did not require surgery, met with Redskins coach Jay Gruden and GM Scot McCloughan in Richmond on Thursday and remained in town overnight.
“We judge it on an individual basis,” Gruden said Thursday, asked how the team evaluates free agents with checkered histories. “And it’s something that Scot [McCloughan], myself and Bruce [Allen] and the defensive staff will all talk about. Obviously, he’s had some issues in the past but we like to draw our own conclusions about every individual that we bring in to this building, and we’ll go from there. It’s very early right now, and I haven’t had a chance to talk to him at all. So until I do, I won’t draw any conclusions on what’s happened to him in the past.”
It wasn’t immediately clear when Galette will start practicing, but there’s little doubt about why the Redskins made the gamble: he’ll provide a much-improved pass rush from the right side of the defense.
Based on the current depth chart, it would seem likely that Galette would be the starter opposite Ryan Kerrigan, a move that could relegate rookie Preston Smith and second year linebacker Trent Murphy to reserve status. Smith and Murphy had entered camp expecting to battle for a starting job.
Signing Galette, however, changed those plans. As it should. Galette is a proven playmaker that will provide an immediate and needed boost to a Washington defense that ranked 29th in points allowed last season.
But the question remains: is Galette’s undeniable talent on the field worth the potential for trouble off of it? The decision to sign him means Gruden and McCloughan were in agreement that the answer, from the Redskins' perspective, at least, was a resounding, “Yes.”