Sometimes, when there’s smoke, it’s just a cigar. And no, I’m not mixing up clichés here. I’m talking about what’s going on in New Orleans right now with the Saints organization.
Having already made a couple of surprising trades—sending All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham on his way to Seattle and promising young wide receiver Kenny Stills to Miami—cornerback Keenan Lewis intimated that he wanted out as well if the team didn’t guarantee the remainder of his contract.
Many Pittsburgh Steelers fans—particularly those hungry for a cornerback—smelled the smoke and came running, only to turn the corner to find a man standing there, puffing away with a cigar. There was no fire for the moths, just second-hand smoke. There would be no trade.
Lewis spoke with the front office of the New Orleans Saints, his hometown team for which he left to play after his contract with the Steelers expired in 2012. After being assured that he remained in their plans going forward, he was contented, and has made peace with his place on the roster. Geographically, of course, he has always been content.
There was also the fact that, due to a previous restructure of his contract last offseason, the Saints would actually incur a greater cap hit by trading Lewis away than if they kept him on the roster, which seriously erodes the logic of making a move. The Saints entered the offseason $20-some million over the salary cap.
Now, there are reports that the Saints have put outside linebacker Junior Galette on the trading block. That, of course, has the fan base who always demands a free agency splash from the Steelers hungry once again, smelling smoke and hoping that there’s something roasting over the fire.
I assure you, again, that the smoke trail leads to nothing so appetizing. This is yet another player for whom it would make little logistical sense to move for the Saints front office. Restructuring Galette’s contract was one of the moves this offseason that helped them become cap compliant in the first place.
That restructure makes Galette a liability to move, and once again, it would cost the team more in terms of cap charge to move him than to keep him. And why would they move him? He recorded 10 sacks and forced three fumbles last year.
There’s also a worrying civil suit pending in Louisiana against Galette that accuses him of physical and emotional abuse. The most worrying part is that this civil suit stems from his arrest earlier this year on a misdemeanor battery charge against a woman who alleges that the abuse took place over a period of two years.
Even if the Saints wanted to move Galette, in a decision that would make no financial sense, the plain truth is that he is a player who would be untouchable for the Steelers, no matter how much they need a pass rusher right now.