The Chargers' ongoing contract standoff with No. 3 overall pick Joey Bosa just went public.
On Wednesday, the team released a statement that not only revealed details of its "best offer" for Bosa, which it says included the largest signing bonus of the past two drafts, but also called into question just how much the former Ohio State defensive end will be able to contribute in his rookie season.
And, oh yeah, that best offer? It's now off the table.
To be clear, it certainly doesn't seem (at least as of right now) as if Bosa will be on the field for the first game of the season, when the Chargers head to Kansas City on Sept. 11. And if he does make an appearance against the Chiefs, it doesn't seem as if he'll be able to contribute like most first-round picks.
Here's the statement in its entirety, via the Chargers' Twitter account:
Our contract discussions and offers to the representatives of Joey Bosa have been both fair and structurally consistent with the contracts of every other Chargers player.
Our offer included:
- An initial signing bonus payment that is larger than any player in the league has received in the last two drafts.
- More money in this calendar year than every player in this year's draft except one (QB Carson Wentz)
- The largest payment and the highest percentage of signing bonus received in the first calendar year of any Chargers' first-round selection since the inception of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.
We gave Joey's representatives our best offer last night, which was rejected today. The offer that we extended was for Joey to contribute during all 16 games and beyond. Joey's ability to contribute for an entire rookie season has now been jeopardized by the valuable time he has missed with his coaches and his teammates. Since Joey will not report at this time, his ability to produce not just early in the season but throughout the entire season has been negatively impacted.
As a result, we will restructure our offer since Joey will be unable to contribute for the full 16 game season without the adequate time on the practice field, in the classroom, and in preseason games.
At roughly 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Bosa's representatives responded. Here's their statement, via ESPN's Adam Schefter:
It is unfortunate the San Diego Chargers have decided to manipulate facts and negotiate in the media. The team surely is not strengthening its relationship with Joey Bosa by taking this stance and making their position public.
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.
So, let's state the obvious: This is bad, for both the Chargers and Bosa.
Here are five things to know about the situation.
1. The issue: Offsets and payment schedule (money!)
Contract stalemates with rookies hardly exist anymore, because there just isn't very much for an agent and front office to haggle over. As former agent Joel Corry wrote for CBS Sports earlier this month:
There are very few negotiable items with rookie contracts anymore because of the collective bargained wage scale. Each pick has a salary floor and ceiling based on draft position. All contracts are four years in length, except teams have an option for a fifth year with first-round picks. This streamlining of negotiations has significantly quickened the pace of signings overall.
As Corry went on to explain, the issue in this case seems to be entirely related to offsets and the payment schedule of the signing bonus:
An offset clause allows a team to reduce the guaranteed money owed to a player when he is released by the amount of his new deal with another team. The player receives his salary from the team that released him in addition to the full salary from his new contract with another club when there isn't an offset (also known as "double dipping").
Bosa's camp is willing to accept a contract without offsets where a portion of the signing bonus is deferred to 2017 or a deal with offsets but the entire signing bonus is paid in 2016. The Chargers want a contract which has offsets and signing bonus deferred to 2017.
And here's the San Diego Union-Tribune's Michael Gehlken explaining the standoff in his article on Wednesday:
The Chargers and Ayrault have been unable to close the gap for how much of Bosa's $17 million signing bonus will be paid out in 2016, the remainder being deferred into next March.
So, clearly, the issues that Corry highlighted haven't gone away.
2. Progress comes to a standstill
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the two sides began talking on Aug. 11 for the first time since July 28. In Bosa's statement, his side claims it was the Chargers who went silent.
The two parties eventually began talking again and those conversations culminated with the Chargers offering their best deal for Bosa on Tuesday, which he rejected. Thanks to the Chargers' statement on Wednesday, the details of that proposed contract are now public knowledge.
The Union-Tribune also reported that the Chargers told Bosa's agent that the offer was the best one they were ever going to get. But now, according to the Chargers, Bosa "will be unable to contribute for the full 16-game season without the adequate time on the practice field, in the classroom, and in preseason games."
That's why they pulled the offer.
3. The PR battle
The Chargers' decision to release a statement that included specifics from their pulled offer might've been shocking, at least initially. But it also makes sense. The team is trying to win the PR battle.
Just take a close look at the statement. The Chargers underlined the following phrases:
- Larger than any player in the league has received in the last two drafts.
- More money in this calendar year
- Largest payment and the highest percentage of signing bonus received in the first calendar year
The entire statement screamed BLAME BOSA.
Actually, this wasn't a statement. This was more like a public shaming.
Usually it is the agents, not the team, trying to direct public perception of negotiations. @Chargers clearly want to control the message.— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) August 24, 2016
All teams know that rookies have no options and will eventually sign (which Bosa, of course, will). Few engage in public shaming.— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) August 24, 2016
Then again, the statement was posted by the team that once (twice, actually) professed its love for PF Changs on Twitter. We probably shouldn't be that surprised.
4. Both sides look bad
Bosa and the Chargers already looked bad before Wednesday. And neither side is going to emerge from this situation as the winner, as CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora noted last week.
Bosa's teammate, Antonio Gates, told him to be a man. That's the expected response when a rookie doesn't show up to training camp.
Bosa's mom said that her son should've "pulled an Eli Manning" on the Chargers, who essentially held the first pick in the draft (everyone knew the two quarterbacks would be off the board first) and ended up using that pick on a player they've failed to negotiate with. That's the expected response when a team fails to sign a rookie, again.
This isn't the first time the Chargers have experienced issues with a top draft pick, as Bosa's mom alluded to:
After this Joey Bosa thing, maybe the Chargers just shouldn't be allowed to draft in the top-12 anymore pic.twitter.com/wV2jY3lmS5— John Breech (@johnbreech) August 24, 2016
5. So, what's next?
The situation is ugly. Well, even uglier than ugly at this point. But a deal is going to get done.
La Canfora said so last week:
Despite all the drama, there really is only outcome -- Joey Bosa is going to sign with the Chargers and almost certainly before Week 1.
And for the slotted dollar amount.
And he repeated a similar message Wednesday:
The Chargers are basically threatening him that he's going to lose game checks because he won't be ready to play. It's a negotiating play. Trading him isn't something they have wanted to explore anyway. He'll sign with them.
Even if the Chargers wanted to trade Bosa, they can't. The Aug. 9 deadline to trade a drafted, unsigned rookie passed already.
So, expect the two sides to finally reach an agreement before the first week of the season. That doesn't mean Bosa will be ready to fully contribute in the team's first game of the season, but getting him signed so that he can contribute at some point in the early portion of the season seems to be the best-case scenario at this point.
Bosa needs the Chargers and their money. And the Chargers need Bosa and his pressure. Over the past two seasons, the Chargers recorded just 58 sacks. Only one team finished with fewer sacks in that span, according to ESPN's Ed Werder.
The Chargers' depth chart might list Bosa as a fourth-stringer for now, but when they finally pay him, they won't be paying him to sit on the bench.