After the most recent collective bargaining agreement was finalized, most people thought that it would be the end of rookie holdouts. And for a few years those people were correct. That’s until the San Diego Chargers drafted the 2014 Big Ten Defensive player of the year, Joey Bosa, out of OSU. The situation between the team and Bosa has deteriorated to the point where the two have taken to the media to bash the other side and try to gain sympathy from the public. But how did we get here?
When the Chargers drafted Joey Bosa with the 3rd overall pick this past spring, the team and the fans thought that their pass rush had finally found the boost it has needed. Instead, Bosa has yet to practice with the team and has indicated that he is willing to sit out the entire season and re-enter the draft next spring. This all seems so puzzling when you consider that the NFL now has set salaries for rookies and the big holdup is minor details regarding the signing bonus and the team’s ability to recoup that money should they cut Bosa. As it stands now, Bosa is the owner of the longest rookie holdout since the new CBA went into affect. And it’s not even close.
Many people, including the Bosa camp, will say that the Chargers are being cheap. They’re probably right. The Chargers want to break up the signing bonus on Bosa’s guaranteed $25 million contract and include offset language. Both of these things are somewhat unprecedented for a 3rd overall draft pick and the reality is that it’s a pretty insignificant point to be holding up the contract on a player that could have contributed early and often. The team is being stubborn and once again showing the world why they are a second-rate organization in the NFL. But they also have all of the leverage, so you can’t really blame them for refusing to be pushed around by some snot-nosed Buckeye hotshot.
As a rookie, Joey Bosa should be learning the ins and outs of the NFL. Game speed and the skill of his opposition will be like nothing he saw in the Big Ten. The fact that he is missing out on all of this could be detrimental to his development. He has no power in this situation and if he really does sit out the entire season, it seems unlikely that he will be drafted as high as he was this time around. Some teams might consider him to much of a headache to deal with, or maybe they will be scared that a year off of the football field eroded some of his skills and conditioning.
The Chargers may have their reputation tarnished, but they never were much of an appealing destination for players to begin with. At the end of the day, the Chargers will still be an organization that is worth millions, even if it is run like garbage. Joey Bosa on the other hand, stands to lose out on millions of dollars. If he comes back from a year off of football and looks like Maurice Clarett did after he went from top prospect to slow, fat trash monster in his year off of football, then he sure is going to look stupid.
Both of the parties are probably at fault here, but only one has the chance to be ruined from it and that is Joey Bosa. It’s probably too late to repair the relationship between the two but it’s not too late to make something out of Bosa’s rookie season. The Chargers will still be a laughing stock among NFL Front Office’s no matter what, but they are used to that. They won’t bend and because of that Joey needs to sign the next offer they give him, even if it isn’t as good as the last one he so stupidly turned down. His livelihood could depend on it.