What contract dispute?
That is the approach that the San Diego Chargers and their would-be standout rookie pass rusher, Joey Bosa, must take now.
They finally reached an agreement on a four-year deal worth, according to a person familiar with the contract terms, about $25.8 million, including a signing bonus of approximately $17 million.
Bosa signed the deal and joined the Chargers on Monday, 13 days before the team’s opener, to begin preparing for his rookie season.
“We look forward to having Joey join us and getting him prepared as quickly as possible for the 2016 season,” Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said in a written statement on the team’s website.
The Chargers and Bosa, selected third overall in the NFL Draft, had a lengthy and contentious contract stare-down in an era in which NFL teams and their rookies no longer have lengthy and contentious contract stare-downs, thanks to the rookie pay system put into effect with the 2011 labor deal between the league and players’ union.
The length of the contract was set by the rookie compensation system. The financial terms of the deal were pretty much in place as well and were not in dispute. No, the Chargers and Bosa were at odds over contract-structure details such as how much of Bosa’s bonus money would be deferred and whether the deal would include offset language to protect the team financially if Bosa is released and signs elsewhere.
It shouldn’t have come to this. But it did. Things got relatively ugly last week when first the Chargers and then Bosa’s agents at CAA released dueling public statements.
But from there, predictably, there was a quiet cooling-off period. Eventually the deal would get done. It had to get done. Bosa was not going to sit out a season. The Chargers were not going to go without the No. 3 pick in the draft.
It finally got done, long after it should have happened and amid so much unnecessary rancor. Bosa’s contract reportedly includes offset language and the largest up-front bonus payment in team history. Each side gave a bit in the negotiations, as should have been the case weeks or months earlier.
Now, if Bosa and the Chargers are smart, they’ll forget about carving up the blame and move on to worrying about trying to make Bosa the player that the team thought it was drafting.
That is the way of the NFL: Take care of the business. And then when that is done, put it aside and focus on the football. That’s precisely what a front office executive with another NFL team said last week when asked about the Bosa situation.
“He’s a good player,” the executive said then. “He wants to play. You draft the guy thinking he’ll be a good player for you. Once this gets done, once he’s in the building, all the short-term noise and combustion will dissipate.”