Holding Pattern

Holdouts are a part of the process and the business in today’s NFL. Veterans holdout to get longer contracts and more guaranteed money. Rookies don’t typically holdout anymore, especially since the Rookie Pay Scale provision was added to the Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011. It’s become a rule of thumb. Rookies are drafted, the negotiations are short, contracts are signed and life moves on.

Ohio State’s Joey Bosa has become an exception to this rule.

Bosa has been a holdout since minicamp concluded and there’s no end to his holdout in sight. Now both Bosa’s representation and the San Diego Chargers front office have taken their private discussions public of as yesterday. Offset language and the deferral of bonus money in his contract is reported to be the main sticking point in the negotiations.

I am normally on the side of the player in situations like this but both sides are wrong (in different ways) in this particular case.

First off, San Diego is dead wrong for their overall stance and handling of this matter. Revealing the details of his contract to the public and following it up with an inflammatory statement from the front office…then thegeneral manager…then the owner was unprecedented. This was also absolutely the wrong thing to do. Negotiations (along with the private discussions that come with them) and hurt feelings – on the part of the player or management – should NEVER become public knowledge. It should never happen and they know it. You may try to portray yourself as the victim (as they attempted to do here) but you’re really making yourself look pathetic and unprofessional.

Secondly, the offset language and the partial deferral of bonus money in the contract are the main points of contention in his holdout. In the new CBA, some teams have the option of adding that language in their draft picks’ contracts. Some teams add it and some don’t. It’s a problem here – the main one here, really – and both sides need to realize that no one party is gonna fully win this one. Bosa’s people want the language removed and/or the bonus in full. The Chargers don’t want to cave on either one.

As simplistic as this may sound…they need to come to a compromise. Agree not to cut him for 3 years, agree to pay back 20% of the total bonus if he is cut, something that will satisfy both parties. Get that worked out and this whole conundrum will be over. As far as the money is concerned, do the same thing. Agree to pay it all now, 80% of it now, 65% of it now or whatever percentage both sides can agree on to end this.

Problem with the last scenario is that San Diego’s front office has a long history of playing hardball with its players, dating as far back to Dan Fouts in the early 1980s.

Back in 2001, LaDainian Tomlinson ended up missing 30 days of camp over his rookie deal. The next season, Quentin Jammer held out for 50 days. Two years later, Philip Rivers held out for 25 days. The year after that, Shawne Merriman missed seven days in a stalemate. Contract extensions are also handled in a similar fashion. It’s a sad and disturbing pattern that has gone on for a long time and see this happen with this franchise once again is and should be a surprise to no one.

Let’s also not forget about Bosa and his representation as well, including his mother who came out publicly and said they wished they did what Eli Manning did back in 2004 and forced a trade from San Diego. I understand her stance from a parent’s perspective but it plays back to what the San Diego contingent did when they aired their dirty laundry. Be mad and upset, sure – just don’t do it on Facebook like she did. In addition, his reps responding publicly to what San Diego did yesterday was also the wrong move in my opinion. They’ve played this correct until commenting (out of likely frustration) yesterday.

You want to and are supposed to negotiate in business from a position of strength. San Diego is not doing that and by engaging in a war of words publicly you have weakened your position with them and in the court of public opinion. Staying silent and continuing to issue the standard “no comment” or saying you’ll continue to work on this would have been the smart way to do things. Engaging in rhetoric doesn’t help you here. It will have the opposite effect. Fall back, stay quiet and let that dysfunctional franchise continue to self-destruct.
In the end, I think this comes to a head around Week 9 or Week 10 (with Week 10 being the drop dead date). Should he not report by then he will be able reenter the draft next season…but he will be leaving the $25 million dollars on the table (per his draft slotting) if he chooses to do that. He won’t be able to go to the combine next year and there’s virtually no guarantee he’ll be selected 3rd overall again. It’s a messy situation that won’t be fixed anytime soon. Both sides need to take a step back – San Diego especially – and come to an agreement before something happens here that neither side will be able to apologize for or come back from.

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