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Saints’ staff faces up to shaving Galette

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WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — The opening practice of the New Orleans Saints’ training camp on Thursday was overshadowed by the pre-camp news conferences a day earlier by head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis.

Meeting with local media for the first time since news broke last Friday that the team was going to terminate the contract of outside linebacker Junior Galette, just 10 months after getting a four-year, $41.5 million contract extension, Payton and Loomis faced the music.

Galette, who had 10 sacks in 2013 and collected a career-high 12 last season, will cost the Saints $5.45 million in salary-cap space in 2015 and force the team to count $12 million in dead money next season after team officials grew tired of his off-field behavior and sent him packing.

Galette, who also reportedly had some locker-room issues last season, was arrested for a domestic violence incident in early January but was never charged in the case.

Then, a video shot in 2013 surfaced in June allegedly showed Galette striking a woman with a belt and throwing punches during a beach brawl. Galette met in late June with NFL officials, who are still investigating the matter.

As a result, Payton and Loomis had to take responsibility for the costly mistake of signing Galette, a talented pass rusher, to such a lucrative deal.

“Yeah, there’s a lot of things I can learn from it, absolutely,” Loomis said. “You know, I don’t think I want to go through those point by point with you here. But yeah, absolutely, we have to learn from these types of situations.”

Payton said, “I think you learn all the time with contracts, timing, all those things. I think that you pay attention to that. But I think we felt strongly at this time, as we get ready to start this season, it was in the best interest of this year’s club.”

The admission came almost one year after the Saints signed All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham to a four-year, $40 million contract and then shipped him to the Seattle Seahawks in early March.

The salary-cap ramifications of the two players are startling.

Graham is counting $9 million against the Saints’ cap for this season, and, combined with Galette’s $5.45 million cap hit, accounts for roughly half of the $29 million in dead money the team is carrying in 2015 — the highest figure in the NFL going into training camp.

In Loomis’ eyes, taking cap hits are sometimes unavoidable and part of the business. The hard part, he said, is when they’re not expecting it.

“What’s difficult is the unexpected dead money,” he said. “We have a little bit of that, and we have to overcome that. That’s part of the consequence and part of the decision process of, ‘Hey, how are we going to handle this?’

“I think we’re pretty good at that without undermining the ability to improve our roster. We’ll overcome it. We’ll handle it and overcome it.”


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