NFL training camp is underway, and for the San Diego Chargers, there’s still no sign of No. 3 pick, defensive end Joey Bosa.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Bosa still hasn’t signed his rookie deal and didn’t show up to the Chargers practice facility on Friday when players reported for camp. Bosa also didn’t attend the Chargers’ mandatory mini-camp in June.
Bosa is currently the only unsigned first-round pick.
Bosa is holding out over two seemingly small contract details: offset language and the deferred payment of a signing bonus.
Offset language is a detail unlikely to affect a player of Bosa’s stature. With offset language, if a team were to release a player before his rookie contract is up, the team would not have to pay the remainder of that player’s contract if he were to sign with another team. Several players have gone to battle over offset language in the past, perhaps most notably Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, who eventually folded and accepted offset language. It’s unlikely that a pick as high as Bosa would be released before his contract is up.
According to ESPN, the deferred bonus payment is the bigger issue. The Chargers traditionally defer or extend the payment of a signing bonus over the course of a rookie contract, but Bosa reportedly wants more money upfront.
According to ProFootball Talk’s Mike Florio, the Chargers allegedly find Bosa’s holdout “strange” and now it’s beginning to get intense. Chargers GM Tom Telesco commented on the holdout and seemed to suggest that Bosa is fighting the way the Chargers traditionally do things.
“It really just comes down to generally this — there’s some things that are negotiable, and money always is negotiable, obviously — but there’s certain things in contracts language-wise, whether you’re picked third, 33rd or 203rd, there’s certain things of consistency and doing things the same way for everyone on the team.”
“And we’re far from uncommon with how we work. I know a lot of other teams probably operate the same way. We try to keep some things constant in everyone’s contract, whether you’re Philip Rivers or the 85th guy on the football team. So that’s kind of where we are. We’re still working through it.”
Head coach Mike McCoy isn’t happy about their top rookie missing valuable training camp time:
“He definitely needs to be out here as a rookie. [I don’t have] any update on the status. Tom [Telesco] made his comments the other day, it’s the same today and we will keep working at that. He needs to be here, everybody needs to be here, especially as a younger player for the installations, playing with your teammates, things like that. We are going to coach the players who are here, and the players who are here did a nice job today.”
Thus far, Bosa’s absence doesn’t seem to be bothering the Charger’s top veterans. Quarterback Philip Rivers said it’s not ideal, but he understands “what it’s like to be in that spot.”
It is worth pondering how long Bosa’s holdout will last before it begins to bother veterans who showed up to camp, even with contract disputes of their own. Bosa is well within his own right to hold out for his own financial security, but at a certain point, it may bother coaches and teammates who feel that, as a rookie, Bosa should show up and prepare for his first season.
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