Deciding his character issues outweighed his enormous talent and salary-cap hit, the New Orleans Saints will release outside linebacker Junior Galette pending a physical, his agent, Alvin Keels Jr., confirmed to The Associated Press.
Galette, 27, signed a four-year, $41.5 million contract extension last September. But he has since been involved in two high-profile allegations of violence that could also have him facing a league suspension.
Keels said Galette is expected to undergo a physical Saturday and, if he passes, should be released by Monday. Galette had suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the weight room this summer but learned he would not require surgery and was hoping to resume practice during training camp.
Galette was scheduled to meet with NFL officials last month in New York to determine whether any punishment is warranted for a January arrest on a domestic violence charge for allegedly pushing a female houseguest -- although the case was dismissed. Galette told New Orleans' WWL-TV that the meeting took place, but the league wouldn't confirm this, saying it was a confidential part of the process.
Galette told WWL-TV that the Saints notified him of his pending release by phone and that he'll make the best of it and will be the best outside linebacker in the league this year. Galette also told WWL-TV that, based on his previous meeting with NFL officials, he believes he is in the clear as far as any league discipline.
However, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Friday that the league's review of Galette is ongoing.
In addition, the Saints and the NFL were made aware of a 2013 video that surfaced in July that allegedly shows Galette striking a woman with a belt during a group scuffle on a beach that was recorded by an onlooker.
In the video, a man who appears to be Galette fights another man using his belt. He then swings the belt at the surrounding group and strikes a woman twice with it. Later on, he shoves several people and throws a punch.
Galette's attorney, Ralph Whalen, told media outlets that there is no proof his client is the person in the video.
New Orleans' top pass-rusher, Galette has 22 sacks over the past two years. His 2015 base salary of $1.25 million became fully guaranteed in March, when he also was paid a guaranteed $12.5 million bonus.
Since the Saints will have released Galette after June 1, his 2015 salary-cap figure will remain at $5.45 million, with another $12.1 million in dead money counting against next year's cap. It's unclear if any of the previously paid bonus money could be recouped in the event of a league suspension.
Galette, who was elected a team captain for the first time last season, ruffled feathers with his brash personality even before his legal issues emerged. He drew the ire of current and former teammates last season when he derisively insisted that the Saints' current defensive players were better than the veterans from their Super Bowl era.
A source also confirmed that Galette was involved in a pregame fight with former Saints teammate Brandon Deaderick last year -- but said Galette didn't deserve to be singled out as the only problem for a defense that had an abundance of chemistry issues last season and at least one more locker-room brawl.
"I love Junior, don't get me wrong. To his credit, he works harder than anyone I know," the source said. "But when they made Junior a captain, that requires another level of maturity. He didn't necessarily capture that. He took it more as a status than being an actual leader."
The Saints had reportedly been mulling whether to release Galette dating back to the spring as they overhauled their roster in the wake of last year's 7-9 collapse -- citing a need to improve things such as leadership and maturity.
Galette's contract made that difficult, however, since the Saints would have had to absorb a cap hit of more than $17 million, which they couldn't afford.
It's possible the team was waiting until after June 1 all along, with Galette's injury complicating the timing.
Although Galette was the Saints' top pass-rusher, the team did load up on depth at outside linebacker this offseason, adding veteran Anthony Spencer in free agency and rookie Hau'oli Kikaha in the second round of the draft, among others.
ESPN NFL Insiders Ed Werder and Adam Schefter and The Associated Press contributed to this report.