Junior Galette's New Contract Reflects Inflated Value with New Orleans Saints

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Junior Galette's New Contract Reflects Inflated Value with New Orleans Saints
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

The New Orleans Saints overpaid when ESPN.com's Mike Triplett reported that they signed outside linebacker Junior Galette to a four-year, $41.5 million contract on Wednesday.

The deal appears to be a team-friendly contract for the Saints after Galette finished last season with 12 sacks, which was sixth-best in the NFL. Galette, meanwhile, was able to land a large contract to provide long-term stability for himself and his family.

His contract, however, reflects his relative market value. Pass-rushers are held at a premium. Galette's deal is the latest to influence the trend.

Let's first address the basics of the contract:

The Saints didn't evenly spread Galette's money throughout the life of the contract. The team decided to take a massive $14.1 million cap hit during the 2015 season.

It did so for two reasons, and their names are Cameron Jordan and Akiem Hicks. Both are free agents after the 2015 campaign. The Saints will pay Galette sooner than later so they can afford to eventually re-sign Jordan and Hicks. Galette's cap hit drops during the following three seasons.

A $14.1 million cap hit is still an eye-popping number, even if it's for only one season. As it currently stands, Galette will have the highest salary-cap hit of any outside linebacker in the NFL during the 2015 campaign. The Green Bay Packers' Clay Matthews, a former NFC Defensive Player of the Year, is second on the list at $12.7 million.

Only three defensive ends are scheduled to carry a larger cap hit in 2015.

Galette may have posted a high sack total in 2013, but his game isn't as well-rounded as that of other pass-rushers in his division or even on his team. Jordan, Carolina's Greg Hardy and Tampa Bay's Michael Johnson were superior players in 2013.

2013 Grades for Top Edge Rushers in NFC South:
Ratings Junior Galette Cameron Jordan Greg Hardy Michael Johnson
Run Defense minus-4.3 minus-3.1 7.5 15.1
Pass Rush 9.1 35.3 19.5 6.7
Overall 5.4 34.1 25.4 22.9

ProFootballFocus.com

Johnson received a long-term contract recently. The Buccaneers signed the defensive end away from the Cincinnati Bengals during free agency to a five-year, $43.75 million contract with $18 million in guaranteed money.

Johnson's yearly average salary and guaranteed money are both lower than Galette's despite being a much better run defender last season. Galette has 21.5 sacks over the past three seasons, while Johnson has 21. However, Johnson received a lower contract value on the open market than Galette did with the Saints.

Cameron's and Hardy's situations are slightly different.

Bob Leverone/Associated Press

Hardy will make $13.116 million this season after the Panthers placed the franchise tag on him. Hardy is due to sign a massive contract next offseason as long as his legal troubles don't cause him to lose what he earns with his play on the field.

Hardy's production and disruptive play as both a pass-rusher and run defender were far better than Galette last season.

Finally, Cameron's ability to get to the passer absolutely dwarfs Galette's. Cameron is a 3-4 defensive end in the team's base set, while Galette is an outside linebacker. This further accentuates the fact that Cameron is a superior player due to his versatility as a rusher from the edge and along the defensive interior.

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Galette graded as the 10th-best pass-rusher among 3-4 outside linebackers last season. His 34 quarterback hurries were 14th among his peers.

It's not simply about getting to the quarterbackit's also about being disruptive on each and every down.

In the NFL, perception is reality. Galette may never earn the entirety of his current contract, but it's constructed to look like he's one of the premier pass-rushers in the NFL.

He's not, but he'll be paid like it over the next year.

 

Salary information courtesy of Spotrac.

Brent Sobleski covers the NFC South for Bleacher Report.

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