The San Diego Chargers have yet to sign third overall pick Joey Bosa, and the rookie defensive end’s holdout has now gone on longer than any first-round pick’s since the new CBA was instituted in 2012. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the two sides haven’t even spoken since July 28, and now Bosa’s mom is publicly wishing that her son had “pulled an Eli Manning” and escaped the Chargers on draft day.
This isn’t supposed to happen! First-round picks essentially have slotted salaries under the new CBA, and so there is nothing like contract length, value, or guaranteed money for teams and rookies to disagree over. There are small quibbles to be had, though, and those are exactly what’s keeping Bosa out of camp.
Bosa and the Chargers are reportedly in disagreement over offset language and bonus deferrals. Offset language is a concept spawned from the same hell that gave us the NFL’s impenetrable contracts, and all it does is allow teams to save a little bit of money should they release a player during the fourth season of his rookie deal. For example, if Bosa was due $2 million in guaranteed salary in his fourth year but the Chargers decided to cut him, they wouldn’t have to pay him that $2 million if he ended up signing a deal worth at least $2 million with another team. Without offset language, they would have to pay that $2 million no matter what.
In addition to digging in their heels on this relatively inconsequential issue, the Chargers are also asking Bosa to defer a percentage of his signing bonus until next March.
What’s really dumb about this is that it is fairly customary for top-five picks to get contracts without offset language and to get their signing bonuses up front. The Chargers apparently have a policy of not caving to rookies on either of these issues, but that kind of hardline attitude doesn’t really make sense when you’re negotiating with a top-three pick and a player as talented as Bosa. The Chargers are like a guy who just spent $500,000 on a new Ferrari, but is now refusing to drive it because he doesn’t want to spend the extra money on premium gasoline.
Bosa is going to get his signing bonus one way or another, so why not treat him like the other top picks and give it to him all up front? And why worry so much about the offset language, when the only situation in which it would matter—Bosa being such a bust that the Chargers have to release him before the end of his deal—would leave the team with much bigger problems than having to pay out a few million dollars? All of this is so, so dumb.
This fall, the Chargers are going to ask their fans to exercise their vote and approve plans to build a new publicly funded stadium in San Diego. Why anyone would vote to hand over their money to a team that’s keeping a blue-chip rookie off the field over minor contractual details is beyond me.