RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) — Whatever Junior Galette has been accused of away from football, and whatever punishment might come from an NFL review, Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden wanted to sign the outside linebacker to help the team’s pass rush.
Less than a week after being released by the New Orleans Saints because of off-field problems, Galette agreed Friday to a one-year contract with the Redskins that agent Alvin Keels wrote on Twitter is for the league minimum — $745,000 for a player entering his sixth season in the league.
In adding Galette, “who’s had maybe a checkered past, so to speak, we feel like the locker room that we have is strong enough that we can help him out,” Gruden said.
Gruden said he didn’t ask Galette’s coach with the Saints, Sean Payton — or other folks around the league — about the player.
“I like to draw my own conclusions about people. It’s just the way I am. I don’t like to predetermine anything based on where he’s been or what he’s done,” Gruden said.
“My job is to watch him on tape and look at him as a football player and then get a chance to talk to him and find out a little bit about his past and what he went through,” said Gruden, who along with general manager Scot McCloughan and team president Bruce Allen met with Galette on Thursday. “We came up with a group effort to give him an opportunity here.”
Galette was arrested in January after an alleged domestic dispute. Charges were dropped, but the episode remains under review by the league. The NFL also is reviewing a video that shows a man resembling Galette in a fight on a beach.
“There’s a concern there. We’ll have to wait and see. The league is going to do their due diligence and make their decision … and whatever the punishment is, we’ll live with it and we’ll respect that, and I know Junior will, too. And we’ll have to wait,” Gruden said. “But right now we signed a very good football player who we think is going to help us.”
The Redskins also learned Friday that second-year cornerback Bashaud Breeland will miss the regular-season opener against Miami after being suspended by the NFL for violating its substance-abuse policy. Breeland was cited for misdemeanor possession of marijuana the night before the Redskins broke training camp in August 2014.
The 6-foot-2, 258-pound Galette led the Saints with 10 sacks last season after ranking second on the team with 12 in 2013.
In 2014, Galette was a Saints defensive captain and was given a $41.5 million, four-year contract extension. But he’s had his share of troubles away from the game, including when he was kicked out of college at Temple when a relative staying with him was caught with a stolen laptop.
After his more recent issues, the Saints informed the 27-year-old Galette last week they would cut him, then made the move official Monday.
In April, when McCloughan was asked about signing free-agent cornerback Chris Culliver, a player with his own issues away from the game, the new GM said: “The last thing I want to do is try to embarrass this organization, bringing in these so-called ‘bad guys.’ I won’t do that. If there is any kind of question mark that he might be a bad guy, we’re not going to do it.”
During Washington’s second practice of training camp Friday, Galette did individual drills on a side field. He had a recent chest muscle injury that Gruden said was checked during an MRI exam Thursday.
“We’ll see how quickly he can practice,” Gruden said, “but we think he’ll be ready to go here quick.”
The Redskins, coming off a 4-12 season and their sixth last-place NFC East finish in the past seven years, are trying to find an effective pass rusher opposite outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. Brian Orakpo left as a free agent.
Before bringing in Galette, the Redskins’ top possibilities to fill that role were last year’s second-round draft pick, Trent Murphy, and this year’s second-rounder, Preston Smith.