Nov 24, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette (93) sacks Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Today’s biggest news is that the New Orleans Saints released their best pass rusher, Junior Galette. Galette spent five years with the Saints after signing with New Orleans as an undrafted free agent back in 2010.
Galette is one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers; he recorded 22 sacks in his past two seasons as the left outside linebacker in Rob Ryan’s 3-4 defense.
And despite playing outside linebacker, Galette is extremely versatile. He played defensive end for his first three seasons before the Saints switched to a 3-4 scheme in the 2013 season. With an elite pass-rushing ability and the ability to play at defensive end, Junior Galette is a perfect fit for the Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive line.
Dec 15, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Junior Galette (93) walks off the field following the second half against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. New Orleans won 31-15. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Bengals had one of the league’s worst defensive lines in 2014, recording a league-low 20 sacks. Adding former Bengal Michael Johnson in free agency to return opposite Carlos Dunlap will hopefully have an impact. And adding another former Bengal, Pat Sims, and drafting rookie Marcus Hardison has fans optimistic; however, the Bengals’ defensive line is still old and, aside from Dunlap and Geno Atkins, incapable of making game-changing plays. And even if Cincinnati’s offseason acquisitions pay off, there are still plenty of questions that its defensive line will have to answer before the season starts. This line could certainly use a young and exciting player like Galette.
Junior Galette is a perfect fit for the Bengals. In addition to fitting into the team’s scheme as a 4-3 end or situational pass-rusher, he is a young, talented but troubled player that fits the mantra of players that Cincinnati loves to take a chance on. While several other teams may pass up on Galette due to his character concerns, Cincinnati will likely at least take a look at Galette, just due to his valuable skill set and the team’s relative weakness at the pass-rushing position.
And although the Bengals were once known as a team who took too many chances on players with character concerns, they have now become a team that really knows which risks are worth taking.
In 2012, the Bengals took a chance on misunderstood undrafted free agent Vontaze Burfict. Burfict was once thought of as a first round talent, but he slipped out of the draft completely due to a terrible combine and character concerns. Burfict is now one of Cincinnati’s best players and is a team leader on defense. He even lead the league in tackles in 2013 and was voted into the Pro Bowl.
Taking a chance on Galette is something that Cincinnati needs to do. It isn’t often that young players as talented as Galette hit the open market. Galette is a talented pass-rusher, a versatile playmaker and an on-field leader. Although Galette comes with baggage, Cincinnati’s coaches have proven to be good at helping troubled players turn their lives around. Offering Galette a Greg Hardy-like contract with high incentives for games played and a low base salary could prove useful, as Galette could possibly face some sort of suspension after a domestic violence charge (although the charge was dropped, a video was since released).
If the Bengals can somehow lock up Galette, their pass-rushing rotation of Carlos Dunlap, Junior Galette and Michael Johnson could be one of the NFL’s best. And with interior pass-rusher Geno Atkins appearing to be back to pre-injury form, the Bengals’ defensive line could be downright scary.