There will be no winners in this ridiculous battle between the San Diego Chargers and the third pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. And, 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.
So, in this tussle over deferred payments and offset language, all that's really left to be determined is how much each side loses.
How much will Bosa have alienated teammates without ever having practiced with them? How much pressure will be on the Chargers, coming off a 4-12 season, to have this pivotal draft pick, the first non-quarterback selected, make an immediate impact? And, most importantly, will Bosa be able to avoid the almost inevitable outcome for so many rookies who miss the offseason and most of training camp -- a muscle or soft tissue injury that takes hold early and cripples their production?
Because that's what this is ultimately about -- how much can Bosa do to turn the fortunes of a floundering franchise coming off a lost season with a potential move to Los Angeles and a possible coaching staff shake-up hanging over them. And whether Bosa gets the bulk of him money paid up front (as he would like) or whether the Chargers "prevail" and defer his signing bonus payments over time in their preferred schedule -- none of that had a damn thing to do with how much this kid can play.
Missing as much time as he already has, with both sides still at a loggerhead and stuck in their respective sides midway through the preseason, won't possibly help his cause on Sundays. He'll have some work to do within that locker room as well, and he better be damn sure to try to avoid a quick injury, lest he compound this problem for all involved.
The dirty little secret in these situations is that, often, the rookie season ends up being even more of a uphill climb because the player tries to prove to everyone how good he is right away, tries to prove that missing all of those petty little practices is no big deal and tries to flash what a difference-maker he can be right from the onset despite having not done any real football team activities since like January, when he played a college bowl game.
And that leads to a hamstring strain or a quad pull in a practice or one of his first games, and then things tend to spiral downward.
Even if Bosa gets all of money exactly how and when he likes it, that won't make up for all of the vital time in meetings and on the field he's missed. It won't give him those essential reps back, or help integrate him into the scheme and roster.
So, when other executives from other teams whisper things to me like, "Who the hell does this kid things he is, making a stand like this before he's ever played a game?"as I've heard so often throughout my training-camp travels, I tend to nod my head in approval.
And, when a prominent agent opines something like, "How the hell does any of this help (Chargers coach) Mike McCoy keep his job and make that football team any better in the short or long term over money they're going to have to pay the kid anyway?" I tend to nod just as fervently.
You can make both cases and I can see both sides of it. Which, to my thinking, makes the stakes so very high and makes this amount to a potential lose-lose situation. Neither side is going to gain all that much by the eventual outcome, and both have already risked so very much by letting this drag on so long.
The stunning performance by Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott in his preseason debut on national television tended to obscure anything else that any of the other kid quarterbacks accomplished in the preseason.
But it shouldn't.
Washington's Nate Sudfeld, a sixth-round pick out of Indiana, is someone I'll be keeping a close eye on for the remainder of the exhibition season.
A few evaluators I really trust we're talking him up to me prior to the draft and they like what the Redskins offensive staff -- coach Jay Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay in particular -- and he looked the part in his preseason debut and stands to play more in this weekend's game, and especially in the fourth preseason contest.
Regardless, for a third-string quarterback, he is flashing ample upside and Sudfeld went 10 of 15 for 89 yards with a touchdown in his first preseason game, all despite absorbing three sacks behind a porous, third-string offensive line.
"He's a very smart kid," said one evaluator who watched him fairly closely in the Big Ten. "He turned down Ivy League schools. He has a high character and the height to stand in there and throw from the pocket. I like his ball placement and accuracy. He has a high completion percentage and a low interception percentage. He's a leader and I like his production in the Big Ten. He actually put Indiana in a bowl game for the first time in a long time. I really like this kid. I think he can play."
The folks over at PFF were gushing about his professional debut as well. I don't want to get too carried away, given how early it is in this process and how small the sample size is, but he's worth watching more of this summer.
The Seahawks begin the preseason more focused, healthy
The Seahawks seem to have their swagger back to me. This time a year ago they were still dealing with the nastiest Super Bowl hangover in NFL history, they had a handful of grumpy players -- punctuated by Kam Chancellor's holdout and Marshawn Lynch's uncertain future -- and it took them until the midpoint of the season to find their way and regain their playoff form.
I wouldn't bet on that being the case again.
They have shed much of that angst, no one is paying much mind to Michael Bennett's contract complaining from the start of camp, and this looks like a team that is ready to make a point that it can still be the NFL's best team on a week-to-week basis.
"It does feel like a normal training camp again," cornerback Richard Sherman told me, "because we have all of our guys. Guy are healthy, for the most part -- more healthy that we've been the past few years. Earl (Thomas) and Kam are relatively healthy, Russell (Wilson) is healthy. And this is a different group when everybody is out here practicing and everybody is getting ready for the games. It's just a different feel."
As for Russell Wilson, after his jet-setting offseason, he is focused solely on football and thinking only about one more trip -- to Houston, in February.
"We just want to go home, play at Century Link Field, go to the next away game," Wilson said, "then hopefully play a few playoff games and then hopefully end up in Houston. I don't know why we would end up in Houston. But that's the goal."
Keep an eye on these Panthers, Redskins coaches
A few relatively unknown assistant coaches who I've heard a nice buzz about during my camp travels -- Panthers linebackers coach Al Holcomb and Redskins offensive assistant Wes Phillips.
Holcomb enters his fourth year in Carolina having molded one of the best position groups in the game, his influence there has continued to grow. With current defensive coordinator Sean McDermott a hot name for head coaching interviews, Holcomb's rise to a defensive coordinator himself seems not far off.
Phillips has a growing role in game-planning under Gruden and McVay, and he moved to the pressbox last year to further assist with in-game adjustments and play-calling. With the Redskins offense seemingly primed for big things in 2016, expect to hear more about McVay and Phillips as well.
The Steelers will be fine with their starters
Steelers fans, chill out. I know these two preseason games haven't been much to look at, but keep in your mind your Hall of Fame quarterback isn't playing, and Landry Jones was brutal on Thursday night.
By the time Le'Veon Bell comes back from his suspension -- and still have reason to believe that will be less than four games -- this group will be humming.
Gabbert is under the gun in 'Frisco
Few quarterbacks will be feeling more heat than Blaine Gabbert to step up in Week 2 of the preseason. His inability to complete easy check downs in his debut in Chip Kelly's offense makes the injury Colin Kaepernick look better and better.
If Gabbert can't convert the quickly, YAC stuff in this tempo offense, well, um, that doesn't bode well.
Houston, we have some problems
The other starter in that sparsely attended game in Santa Clara, Brock Osweiler, wasn't exactly looking the part of a gunslinger in his first game in Bill O'Brien's offense in Houston, either. He could stand to step it up as well.
Look for Paxton Lynch to see plenty of action
No matter who starts Week 1 in Denver, I'd continue to put my money on rookie Paxton Lynch ending up with the majority of the snaps in that offense when all is said and done there in 2016.
The Bills better start off strong, or else
Is anybody having a worse preseason than the Bills? Ominous clouds have been circling there for quite some time.
I've long suspected sweeping changes looming there come January and each injury and/or suspension only makes that suspicion stronger.
That's a team that needs to come out of the gate strong.