“We have a strong locker room,” Gruden said July 31 after the Redskins signed Galette, who was released by New Orleans less than one year after he’d signed a $41.5 million contract extension, the team weary of his clashes with coaches and disturbing off-the-field incidents. “You bring a guy like that in who has a checkered past, so to speak. We feel like the locker room that we have is strong enough that we can help him out.”
That locker room includes another McCloughan signee with an arrest record: former San Francisco cornerback Chris Culliver.
In both cases, McCloughan has vouched for the character of the players to the point of staking his own reputation on the belief that they will help the Redskins without embarrassing the organization.
But it’s increasingly clear that in trying to bring toughness to a poor-tackling Redskins defense, McCloughan is comfortable adding players with “an edge” to them — an edge that in some cases crosses a line.
Culliver, 26, was involved in a hit-and-run incident last offseason that resulted in his arrest on five related charges, including felony possession of brass knuckles and misdemeanor driving on a suspended license. After hitting a cyclist, he fled the scene only to be blocked by another car. The cyclist recovered.
Galette, 27, may start the season with an NFL suspension pending a league investigation into two off-the-field incidents: A January arrest, though charges were later dropped, for allegedly injuring a woman while trying to force her to leave his home, and a 2013 video that surfaced in June of a brawl in which a man who appears to be Galette beats a woman with a belt. Galette’s lawyer has insisted that the man in the video isn’t his client.
A fifth-year veteran, Culliver (6-0, 199) has played three NFL seasons, missing 2013 recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He returned to post his most impressive season as a pro. His four interceptions in 2014 were more than half the total (seven) registered by the entire Redskins defense. He also had 45 tackles and 14 pass breakups, including one against quarterback Robert Griffin III in the 49ers’ 17-13 victory over the Redskins on Nov. 23.
The Redskins paid him accordingly, signing him in March to a four-year deal worth an estimated $32 million, of which nearly half is guaranteed. He took over as the team’s starting corner, to be paired with 11th-year veteran DeAngelo Hall, the moment he arrived at Redskins Park.
Just as McCloughan vouched for Culliver in the spring, Culliver vouched for McCloughan in speaking to reporters recently at training camp, calling the general manager a “down-to-earth” and “straightforward guy.”
“He can find talent,” Culliver said of McCloughan. “He has a nose for it. He has a niche for it. Sometimes a lot of people like to just see a size or [say], ‘Oh, he has one thing or another.’ But sometimes you have to look deeper into that. It’s not just about how big or just because you have this aspect or that aspect; it’s how you become a football player. How can you see this person potentially growing and becoming a better man and all of those types of things? I just feel like he has a niche for that. That’s his deal. That’s his gift.”
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