SAN DIEGO — Joey Bosa’s holdout turned ugly Wednesday when the San Diego Chargers pulled their contract offer to the first-round draft pick and said they’ll restructure a new deal that would reflect him playing less than a full season.
Bosa has missed all of training camp as his agents and the team wrangle over how much of his $17 million signing bonus he’ll get up front, as well as offset language in the case he gets cut.
The Chargers were counting on the former Ohio State star to help bolster their pass rush and bring some excitement to a season that could be pivotal to their future in San Diego.
It’s not clear whether Bosa, the No. 3 pick overall, is willing to sit out the season. Also unclear is how the situation could affect the Chargers’ push for $1.1 billion in a public subsidy for a new downtown stadium, which could be their last chance at remaining in San Diego.
At the very least, the team is willing to continue to play hardball with Bosa.
The Chargers said in a statement that they gave Bosa’s agents their best offer on Tuesday night, and it was rejected Wednesday.
“The offer that we extended was for Joey to contribute during all 16 games and beyond,” the team said. “Joey’s ability to contribute for an entire rookie season has now been jeopardized by the valuable time he has missed with his coaches and his teammates. Since Joey will not report at this time, his ability to produce not just early in the season, but throughout the entire season, has been negatively impacted.”
Bosa is the only first-rounder who has not signed with his team.
San Diego said it offered an initial signing bonus payment larger than any draftee received in the past two drafts, and more money in 2016 than any draftee except Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.
One of Bosa’s agents, Brian Ayrault said in a statement that it was “unfortunate the San Diego Chargers have decided to manipulate facts and negotiate in the media. The team surely is not strengthening its relationship with Joey Bosa by taking this stance and making their position public.”
He added that “the Chargers can focus on trying to sway public opinion, but our focus will remain on our client and securing a contract for him that is fair and consistent with his draft position.”
Asked twice via text if Bosa was prepared to sit out the entire season, Ayrault didn’t answer.
One of Bosa’s agents at CAA Sports, Tom Condon, has sparred plenty with the Chargers over the years. He represented Eli Manning, whose family didn’t want the Chargers to take him with the No. 1 pick overall in 2004. San Diego took him anyway, and then traded him to the New York Giants for Philip Rivers. Condon also represented Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson and Marty Schottenheimer, all of whom had unhappy departures from the team.
The rhetoric accelerated earlier this month when Cheryl Bosa, Joey’s mother, posted a remark toward the Chargers on Facebook. In a reply to someone frustrated by the impasse, she wrote: “It bums me out for him so much. Wish we pulled an Eli Manning on draft day.”
Bosa’s father, John, is a former first-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins.
The Chargers’ statement on Bosa came just 30 minutes after they released an economic study that shows a combined downtown stadium and an off-site expansion to the city’s convention center will result in a “significant positive impact” on San Diego’s convention and hotel industry. The Chargers will ask voters on Nov. 8 to approve a 4 percent increase in the hotel tax to help pay for the $1.8 billion project.
Three other studies have been released showing that the benefits of the project won’t match its cost.
The Chargers already face an uphill fight. The measure must receive two-thirds of the vote to pass, a number considered impossible to obtain in San Diego.
The team has recently started attacking City Councilman Chris Cate, who said that while he wants the Chargers to stay, he’s opposed to the downtown stadium plan. Mayor Kevin Faulconer has remained silent on the Chargers’ downtown plans. Faulconer wanted the Chargers to build a new stadium at the site of aging Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley.
The Chargers spent most of 2015 working with the rival Oakland Raiders on a plan to build a stadium in Carson, a Los Angeles suburb. NFL owners rejected that plan in January, choosing instead a plan that allowed the Rams to move to Los Angeles and build a stadium in Inglewood set to open in 2019.
The league gave the Chargers the right to join the Rams in that stadium. The Chargers have until Jan. 15 to decide on relocation.
Also Wednesday, the Chargers said defensive end Damion Square has been suspended four games without pay for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.