According to multiple reports the New Orleans Saints are releasing star pass rusher Junior Galette just one year after signing him to a massive $41.5 million contract extension. Galette, who was rumored to be on the trading block all winter, had been involved in a few off field incidents and also was injured at some point during the offseason. From a salary perspective this is a massive blow to the Saints, who are seemingly clearing the roster this year and beginning a new chapter for the team. They will carry over $17 million in dead money charges over the next two seasons for Galette. Continue reading Saints Release Junior Galette »
Yesterday Saints’ outside linebacker Junior Galette signed a huge four year, $41.5 million contract extension and we were able to obtain the specifics of the contract through a source and its a very interesting deal.
Upon signing Galette is guaranteed $16.75 million of his contract. The fully guaranteed portion of the contract comes from a $750,000 base salary in 2014, a $3.5 million signing bonus, and a $12.5 million roster bonus that is paid on the 3rd day of the 2015 League Year. Normally a guaranteed roster bonus is prorated but to avoid that treatment (though in reality its delaying the inevitable) it will not be fully guaranteed until next week.
In 2015 and 2016 Galette has injury protected salaries of $1.25 million and $5 million respectively. These salaries will become fully guaranteed on the 3rd day of that League Year.
In 2017, 2018, and 2019 Galette can earn non-guaranteed base salaries of $5.2 million, $6.4 million, and $7.3 million. In each season he is eligible for $500,000 in per game active roster bonuses and in 2018 and 2019 will earn a $500,000 roster bonus if he is a member of the team on the 3rd day of the League Year.
The contract also contains an interesting set of incentives that hinge almost solely on his performance this season. If Galette notches 12 sacks in 2014 he will unlock a $2.5 million roster bonus that is payable in 2016, a $1.3 million escalator in 2018, and another $1.2 million escaltor in 2019. He must also remain a member of the team in good standing to keep those incentives, none of which are guaranteed even if earned. If he is suspended, holds out, or lands on the NFI list it will also void those additional payments.
This is another in a long line of mega contracts for the Saints who are clearly all in when it comes to this season. Galette’s cap number only increased by $50,000 this year but the monstrous $15.45 million cap charge next season has left the Saints with around $160 million in cap charges for their top 51 players. The team has five players with cap charges in excess of $10 million and eight players over $9 million. They are basically replacing the Dallas Cowboys as the baseline for current cap manipulations with minimal regard for the future.
Galette will likely have his contract restructured next season which will make what looks like manageable future contract figures high end figures and creating more trouble for the Saints in the future.
A few weeks ago Jason LaCanfora published a list of best and worst contracts in the NFL so I thought it might make a good idea for us to do the same here at OTC, with a team by team approach. I’ll try to be a bit more analytical in terms of why money was paid and how it fits in the market, but the general premise is the same. The one key difference is outside of restructured rookie contracts under the old CBA we will only use veteran contracts as there is a big difference between best draft picks and best contracts. Please note that there is a difference between a bad player and a bad contract when discussing some of the selections. Clicking on a players name will take you to his salary cap page.
Best Contract: Junior Galette
For as much grief as I give the Saints for the way that they have constructed their salary cap, they do have a number of good contracts on the team. The three that stand out are those of Marques Colston, Darren Sproles, and Junior Galette. I know some had asked me about Brian De La Puente, but because he is on a RFA contract I eliminated him from consideration since there are solid long terms deals on the team as well. So why Galette and not Colston or Sproles?
Colston gives tremendous production for his price tag and he was one of the first “prolific” wide receivers to seemingly get discounted because he lined up a lot in the slot. The tradeoff was some heavier guarantees which in turn make cutting him at any point expensive, which the Saints compounded with a restructure for cap relief this year. So that’s a bit of a negative. Sproles is a dangerous all around threat that the Saints never got tricked into paying too much for and had an easy escape from his deal once he hit 30 if needed. That said he doesn’t have the high level of upside that I think Galette has.
In his brief amount of snaps last season (around 30%) Galette was terrific as a pass rusher. In my own analysis of Pro Football Focus’ stats he was one of the best 43DE’s in the NFL in terms of productivity per play. He ranked third among 43DE’s in that category and while his numbers in such a metric will drop when not simply a pass rush specialist, on this team and in a pass happy division the drop might not be as significant as others. Even with the small amount of snaps he played, the pass rush production was worth a contract worth around $4 million a year. His deal with the Saints is only for $2.5 million per year.
The upside is gigantic with Galette and if he develops into a 600 to 800 snap player, the Saints will have someone on the team carrying a cap figure that is going to be about 1/3 of the production amount. This is the type of deal that allows them to carry the salary for Drew Brees. At worst he remains a pure situational player and he is still a bargain even at this price if he continues to produce at his current rate.
If he doesn’t realize the potential and fails, the contract only cost the Saints $3.5 million for an extended one year look at him in 2013. They can release him next season for just $1.8 million in cap charges or the year thereafter at $900,000. With cap charges never running higher than $2.9 million and the fact that he is only 25 there really should be no need for the Saints to move on anyway. With the deal structured as it is, an extension can be struck at any time if he hits it big to keep him a Saint until he is in his early 30’s at some cap friendly prices. A solid contract for the team.
Worst Contract: Will Smith
The Saints are another team with a number of bad contracts. The contracts are not so much overvalued like the Cowboys are or Raiders were nor were they bizarre decisions like those of the Panthers, but more just a tangled mess created by restructures and a resistance from moving on from certain players. I think Roman Harper was a good example of this. Harper really should have simply been cut, but they opted instead to redo his contract with Harper taking a paycut of sorts in 2013 for extension years that ensure his place on the team through 2014, which is probably a mistake. Curtis Lofton’s deal was an example of restructure that has bad future consequences because they needed cap relief to maintain other players.
One of those other players that money was needed to retain was Will Smith. Smith has only produced 12.5 sacks the last two seasons , a low amount considering how often he should be in a position to rush the passer. Whereas Galette was one of the most productive pass rushers per attempt in the NFL, Smith was one of the worst. The same formula estimated his pass rush worth to be $2.3 million. His cap number this year is around $8 million.
2012 is really where it all went wrong for the Saints with Smith. Smith had already passed the age of 30 and had seen his stats fall for two years, following the 13 sack season in 2009. At that point Smith would have cost the Saints $4 million to release, not including the signing bonus forfeiture from his suspension, which drove that cost down even more. Smith’s cap charge that year was going to be around $10 million with $8 million coming in the form of base salary and a roster bonus. Rather than trying to drive the price down due to the cap savings realized by cutting him they rolled all of the maximum amount of the offseason money into a signing bonus.
The decision was not a good one. The team saved nearly $5 million in cap but increased his 2013 dead money from just $2 million to nearly $7 million with a cap charge over $14 million. The Saints did finally push for a paycut in 2013, but by that time the damage was done. Even in reducing his pay from $9 to $3 million Smith still has a cap charge of $8 million this season putting him around the top 15 at the position. When they do release him next season he will still carry over $2 million in cap penalties due to that 2012 restructure.
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