The San Diego Chargers’ contract standoff with third overall pick Joey Bosa took an ugly turn Wednesday.
The Chargers released a statement saying Bosa — who’s been holding out of training camp and preseason over his contract — had turned down their “best offer.”
As a result, the Chargers suggested they would be forced to reduce their offer because he won’t be able to play all 16 regular-season games.
In the statement, the Chargers also briefly outlined their proposal, claiming that their offer included a signing bonus larger than any rookie in the last two years and more first-year money than any other rookie besides Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.
Later on Wednesday, Bosa’s camp shot back at the Chargers’ shockingly transparent statement, saying the team is trying to “sway public opinion” while further damaging the relationship with Bosa.
“It is unfortunate the San Diego Chargers have decided to manipulate facts and negotiate in the media,” CAA, Bosa’s firm, said. “The team surely is not strengthening its relationship with Joey Bosa by taking this stance and making their position public.”
The statement continued:
“We have decided that we will not engage in public negotiations or discuss numbers and/or terms in this negotiation.
“We will say, that it is ironic that the team now takes issue with the timing of Joey’s arrival, since the Chargers unilaterally decided to remain silent for the first 14 days of training camp instead of replying in a timely fashion to the proposal we made on the eve of training camp on July 28th.
“At this point, all we can do is continue to fight for a fair contract on behalf of our client, as we do for all of our clients. The Chargers can focus on trying to sway public opinion, but our focus will remain on our client and securing a contract for him that is fair and consistent with his draft position.”
Bosa’s position reportedly comes down to two factors: deferred payment of his signing bonus and offset language. While offset language — a condition that prevents teams from having to pay a player the rest of his contract should he get cut before it’s up — is unlikely to affect a player like Bosa, the bigger issue appears to be the signing bonus. Bosa’s position is that if he has to accept offset language, he doesn’t want his bonus deferred.
The Chargers’ actions haven’t won them many supporters. ESPN’s Dan Graziano called the Chargers’ logic “ill-fitting” and “illogical,” given that they haven’t dealt with a draft pick as high as Bosa in recent years and will likely win the standoff, anyway. SB Nation’s Louis Bien argued the Chargers are being “petty” by trying to swing momentum back their way.
With two weeks until the NFL regular season begins, the Chargers and Bosa are running out of time to come to an agreement. As Graziano notes, Bosa has little leverage to begin with, and may end up having to take a deal he doesn’t like. However, if Bosa stands firm, his holdout could bleed into the fall.
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