It’s a holdout about nothing, at least from the team’s perspective.
With defensive end Joey Bosa, the third overall pick in the draft, officially absent for the start of camp, the team is left to wonder why.
Per a source with knowledge of the team’s thinking, the Chargers view the impasse as “strange,” given that every penny of Bosa’s slotted contract is fully and completely guaranteed. The franchise looks at the remaining areas of the dispute as minimal and trivial, given that most if not all other players on the roster: (1) have offset language attached to their guaranteed money; and (2) accept a deferred percentage of their signing bonus until March of the following year.
The problem seems to be that the Chargers are looking at the negotiation from the perspective of team precedent, and that Bosa’s agents are looking at it from the perspective of third-overall-pick precedent. Which is how most agents and teams usually view such negotiations.
So, from that perspective, it would be just as easy for Bosa and his agents to call the team’s position “strange.”
The cash-flow issue seems small on the surface, given interest rates. But these are significant dollars, with the team trying to retaining the ability to invest or otherwise use the money into next year and the player wanting the money now. Also, the issue is bigger than when the money will be paid; it’s a matter of the new rookie wage scale giving teams and agents very little to negotiate when doing these deals. Cash flow regarding the signing bonus is one of the few issues left.
Other players taken at the top of the first round have gotten all of their signing bonus now, or will have it all by October. Bosa is looking to be treated the same way as those players; the Chargers are looking to treat Bosa the same way they have treated other players. (The fact that the Chargers typically don’t draft in the top five could be the primary reason for the impasse.)
As to offset language, that issue continues to be a matter of cleaning up the worst-case scenario of a guy getting cut before his four-year contract ends. If it comes to that, whether the Chargers pay the balance of the deal or get credit for the low-end contract Bosa would get elsewhere is a small part of the far bigger problem that they took Bosa when they could have had Jalen Ramsey or some other player who becomes great.
It will be much harder for Bosa to become great right away, if he misses much practice time. And it will be much harder for the Chargers to win at the ballot box in November, if Bosa isn’t great right away. The smart move for both sides would be to find a way to compromise. For now, with team and player dug in on both offsets and cash flow, it’s going to require someone to blink in the name of the greater goals that both sides have for the relationship.