Saints release embattled linebacker Junior Galette
The New Orleans Saints have cut Junior Galette, who has been among their most productive pass rushers the past two seasons, but also has dealt with off-the field trouble.
Galette's agent, Alvin Keels Jr., said Friday that his client has been informed he'll be released after he undergoes a physical.
Galette, who signed a four-year, $41.5 million extension just last year, led the Saints with 10 sacks last season. His 12 sacks ranked second on the club in 2013.
The Saints did not return multiple messages seeking comment on the move, but the timing indicates that coach Sean Payton was concerned about whether the NFL's ongoing review of Galette's conduct outside of football could become disruptive for the club.
Galette was arrested in January after an alleged domestic dispute. Charges were dropped, but the incident remains under review by the NFL. The league also is reviewing a video which shows a man resembling Galette in an altercation on a beach.
Keels said Galette is expected to undergo a physical on Saturday, and, if he passes, should be released by Monday.
''He appreciates the organization and the fans, coaches and teammates for the opportunity,'' Keels said. ''Things obviously didn't work out and he's looking forward to the next chapter in his playing career.
''He's motivated to get back on the field and I think he'll use this as a building block,'' Keels added. ''He'll bounce back.''
Galette was elevated to a starting role in 2013 in part because of injuries to former Saints outside linebackers Will Smith and Victor Butler. Galette finished that season within one sack of defensive end Cameron Jordan's team-leading 12 1/2 sacks.
''The Saints made a big mistake to kick me when I'm down,'' Galette told WWL-TV in New Orleans on Friday. ''I'm not mad. It'll be the worst call they ever made. I will be the best player in the league next year.''
In 2014, Galette was named a defensive captain and received a new contract, seemingly consummating an inspirational rise from a challenging childhood and a significant setback in college.
Galette, who describes an early childhood spent in poverty in Haiti, moved to New York later in his youth. He initially attended college at Temple, but was kicked out when a relative staying with him was caught with a stolen laptop. He then transferred to Division II Stillman.
In 2010, he signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent and made the squad as a long-shot, playing in four games as a rookie. He served primarily as a reserve defensive end in the 2011 and 2012 seasons, compiling 9 1/2 sacks combined during those two campaigns before his breakout season in 2013.
Galette's release will cost him nearly $24 million in base salary from 2016 through 2019, but he has already been paid close to $17 million.
''I'm set for life. My mom's set for life. My son's set for life,'' Galette told NOLA.com. ''This is not adversity. Adversity is getting kicked out of Temple with no money in your pocket.''
The guaranteed portions of Galette's contract will also count against the Saints' salary cap the next two seasons, likely in excess of $10 million in 2016, depending on whether he signs with another club.
Meanwhile, New Orleans' decision to release Galette raises prospects for playing time for eight-year veteran Anthony Spencer and rookie second-round draft choice Hau'oli Kikaha.
Spencer, who played under Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan when he held the same job in Dallas, joined the Saints this offseason as a free agent. He took a number of first-team snaps during voluntary practices and mandatory minicamp this summer.
Kikaha registered 19 sacks for Washington last season, the most by any player in the NCAA's Division I Football Bowl Subdivision.