This past week, we heard from tight end Antonio Gates and former running back LaDainian Tomlinson on the Joey Bosa topic -- namely, Gates saying that at some point, a player needs to "be a man" and report to camp, and Tomlinson remarking that Bosa "isn't getting great advice."
It's important to point out that both Tomlinson and Gates held out of training camp in their respective careers while in a contract dispute, and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers did as well. It's also important to point out that all three held out under the old collective bargaining agreement, which allowed for more wiggle room in terms of negotiations. The new CBA, set in 2011, pretty much eliminates the need for players to remain unsigned, as it set wages for rookies and created "ready-made deals" in most cases.
NFL players don't typically speak about other players' money, as most have been in a contract negotiation themselves at some point and tend to support one another or say nothing at all. So, it's been interesting hearing players speak out about Bosa, who still hasn't reported to camp because of a contract dispute -- making his holdout the longest since the new CBA went into effect.
While it appears Bosa's camp will eventually fold -- he really doesn't have much leverage in this situation, especially as the regular season approaches -- one might wonder what kind of lasting damage this situation will leave. We've seen a player initially hold out, only to re-sign with the same team again and again -- meaning grudges go by the wayside -- and we also know that in the NFL, winning cures all. So does good play. But say Bosa doesn't go on to get double-digit sacks in a season? Say he is a solid player, but not a flashy one? Will that be enough for the third-overall pick to escape the stigma that's now been placed on him by fans, media and teammates? NFL expectations are often unfair -- especially for first-round picks -- but they are also the reality.
If you listen to Bleacher Report's Jason Cole, Bosa is already feeling resentment toward the team that chose him in the first round. Cole, using an anonymous source, reported this:
"Bosa feels that there is irreparable damage that has been done over the relationship between the team and him."
A respected NFL agent, who represents many big-name players, said the following to me recently:
"The problem is that other players should not be saying anything [about Bosa's situation]. What's going to happen when [Bosa] gets there? There's going to be a little resentment, that's for sure ... There is a line being drawn in the sand, and that could be damaging. It seems that what they're doing is backing him into a corner. Bosa will probably blink first, but the effect is irreversible."
A former NFL player argued this point:
"Players know if other players should hold out. He isn't in the hold out position."
The one thing the Bosa issue has done is form sides. Are you Team Chargers? Team Bosa? One could argue that you can find legitimacy in both sides and their respective reasoning, and the truth is that none of us really know what's behind the standoff. Is it just money? Is there something the Chargers know about Bosa that is causing concern?
A source within the Chargers organization said this week that "every contract on our roster has offset language" and that the team "never gives the full signing bonus at once." Then again, the Chargers haven't had a pick in the top 10 since 2004, when the old CBA was in effect. Multiple agents have said Chargers chief negotiator Ed McGuire is respected throughout the NFL for the way he does business, but again, each situation is different.
And so we go, 'round and 'round.
Players reported to Chargers camp on July 29th. Bosa is still not there. Time will tell what will be the lasting effect of this situation.