Joey Bosa, the third-overall pick and the first non-quarterback to be taken in this year's draft, is off to a strange start in San Diego. After an initial adjustment period, Bosa impressed his teammates during rookie minicamp and OTAs. Now, though, Bosa is nowhere to be found for mandatory minicamp.
The defensive end is holding out amid a contract stalemate. And that has the Chargers feeling "disappointed."
"We're disappointed he's not here," said GM Tom Telesco, per the San Diego Union-Tribune."This is a big part of the learning process for all players, not just rookies. But there's a business part to this (game), too, and we understand that. It's part of being a professional athlete. I'll say: the time he's been here, I've been really impressed with not only his ability but his work ethic. That's been great.
"That all being said, we've got to treat all of our players the same. That's the big thing. We can't do one thing different for one guy and the same for 89 others. These things tend to work out. It's June. We'll just keep going."
Rookie holdouts these days are uncommon because the wage scale set in the 2011 CBA was supposed to eliminate contract disputes. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune's Michael Gehlken, the conflict is about his signing bonus, which the Chargers want to defer, and offset language:
Per sources familiar with negotiations, a main hurdle relates to offset language. Bosa's representation is pushing for there to be none. That would mean the Chargers pay him all of his four-year guaranteed contract -- it will include a fifth-year team option -- even if they release him sometime during it. Theoretically, Bosa thereby can double-dip and be paid full salaries from the Chargers and any new team with whom he signs. Again, all this comes into play in the unlikely event Bosa is released during the coming few years.
If there is offset language, the Chargers are off the hook for Bosa's salary with his new team, only owing him the difference between the two salaries.
Regardless of how the negotiations play out, if the Chargers are forced to release Bosa before the end of his contract, they'll be screwed, even if they're covered financially. After all, they essentially had the first pick in this year's draft with two quarterbacks going back-to-back to kick off the festivities. The Chargers, who were never going to take a quarterback, were given the chance to pick whichever player they wanted. They landed on Bosa.
The Chargers can't afford to waste time building a contender. Quarterback Philip Rivers is 34, which narrows their window of opportunity. With the Broncos coming off a Super Bowl, the Chiefs fresh off a playoff appearance, and the Raiders on the rise, the Chargers' task won't be easy. It'll be a little easier, though, if Bosa turns into the kind of player worthy of the No. 3 pick.
It's still only mid-June, so there's no reason for the Chargers to panic over his absence. As long as he's under contract before the end of July, when training camp commences, all will be well. For now, considering it a situation worth monitoring.