With less than a week before training camp opens, the New Orleans Saints will release outside linebacker Junior Galette, The Advocate confirmed through multiple sources Friday, cutting ties with a player who has been linked to two violent incidents involving women this offseason.
Galette, who signed a four-year, $41.5 million deal last September, told reporters in June that he had put his off-the-field troubles behind him. The Saints apparently disagreed.
Galette remained the team’s premier pass rusher after racking up 22 sacks in the past two seasons, and he carried a prohibitive salary-cap hit that will cost New Orleans $5.45 million in dead money this season and $12.1 million against the 2016 salary cap. But the Saints apparently decided that taking the hit on the books and on the field couldn’t outweigh Galette’s transgressions away from the team facility.
First, Galette was arrested at his Kenner home Jan. 5 and charged with one misdemeanor count of simple battery related to domestic violence after he and a friend were involved in an altercation with a woman. According to police, the woman had visible injuries and an earring ripped out of her ear — injuries attributed to Galette’s dog, which became agitated during the confrontation.
Kenner officials dropped the charge in February, citing the fact that Kenner law requires two people to co-habitate to pursue a domestic violence charge. A civil suit remains in limbo after the woman’s initial attorney dropped the case.
During the team’s mandatory minicamp, Galette proclaimed his innocence in the incident and apologized to Saints fans for the off-the-field controversy, citing his record in his first four seasons as proof the arrest was an isolated incident.
Then, a YouTube video emerged that showed a man — reportedly Galette — hitting a woman with a belt during a 2013 altercation in Miami Beach. The man, wearing a white shirt, white shorts, white shoes and sunglasses, can be seen striking two people, including the woman, multiple times with a belt, then returning to the fight later and throwing several more punches.
A photo from Galette’s deleted Instagram account — dated March 24, 2013 — was later provided to The Advocate, depicting Galette and four friends on a beach wearing similar clothing to the men in the video. The video of the beach brawl was uploaded to YouTube on March 25, 2013.
At the time, Galette’s lawyer, Ralph Whalen, said it could not be determined whether the man in the video was Galette.
“I’ve seen it a bunch of times,” Whalen said. “It certainly doesn’t convince me that it’s Junior. I don’t know what basis anyone can look at the video and say that it’s Junior.”
Both incidents are under review by the NFL. Under the league’s new personal conduct policy adopted in the wake of controversies surrounding Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and others last season, the league mandates a “baseline suspension of six games without pay for violations involving assault, battery, domestic violence, dating violence, child abuse, other forms of family violence or sexual assault, with consideration given to possible mitigating or aggravating circumstances.”
Galette, who declined multiple interview requests from The Advocate on Friday, told WWL-TV that he believed he was in the clear after meeting with the NFL last month. Galette also told WWL that he plans to play this season.
The move leaves the Saints with questions at outside linebacker, the top pass-rushing position in Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme. New Orleans added second-round pick Hau’oli Kikaha, fifth-rounder Davis Tull and veteran pass rusher Anthony Spencer during the offseason to boost the team’s talent on the edge, but none of those players has proved he can match Galette’s production.
The Saints report to training camp Wednesday at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The first practices are Thursday.