There is a resounding feeling across all of football that the rookie season of Joey Bosa isn't heading toward trouble. It isn't close to over. Actually, what three general managers said in interviews was that it is over. It's done. It's gone. The dumbass Chargers flushed it down the toilet.
"If Joey Bosa ended his dispute tomorrow," said one NFC general manager, "he would barely get something from his rookie year. But it won't end tomorrow. It could be weeks. So effectively, the Chargers threw away the rookie year of their own high draft pick."
"His rookie season is over," said another NFC general manager, "and he may not be a Charger."
When league executives say his season is over, they mean effectively over, because he'd report to the team so late that it's unlikely he'd be able to make any significant contributions.
The second NFC general manager said there's a 20 to 30 percent chance that Bosa refuses to play for the Chargers and then re-enters the draft next year (the Chargers would own his rights until draft day). Bosa could then be picked in the draft by any team but the Chargers. The trading deadline has passed.
A member of the Bosa camp told me that that possibility "is slim but growing every day." The problem Bosa has is that a worse team than the Chargers could draft him, though now that seems hard to imagine. Even the Browns are laughing at the Chargers.
This is where we are with Bosa. Because of the utter cheapness of the Chargers and their penny-pinching, irrational, self-defeating ways, Bosa has lost one season of his career.
There are rookies who prosper in the NFL. Jim Brown did. So did Earl Campbell. And Charles Woodson and Von Miller. Odell Beckham humiliated Pro Bowl veterans. It does happen, but it remains incredibly rare for a rookie to dominate. The chances are almost infinitesimal that a rookie could miss training camp and still contribute anything of significance. This isn't to say it has never happened, but it's as rare as the Chargers doing something smart.
This is the main point of the general managers interviewed. It's not a groundbreaking point, but it's important.
Joey Bosa has no chance to do anything this year. Not a damn thing beyond making some special teams tackles.
In speaking to people around the NFL, I've rarely seen such a unanimity on two fronts: 1) Bosa's rookie year is over, and 2) the Chargers are screwing this up.
I cannot stress this enough. Every team I speak to thinks the Chargers are ruining Bosa. They are laughing at the Chargers. Laughing at them.
"This is very Chargers," said one general manager.
I know there's a thought process that because Bosa plays defensive end, he won't necessarily fall behind in the playbook, because playing that position doesn't require a great deal of thought (no offense to all the DEs out there).
The problem with that theory is that training camp and preseason help rookies adjust to the speed of the game as well as the physicality. That process can take months. Sometimes, it can take a full season.
The core issue between Bosa and the Chargers comes down to a simple concept: Bosa wants his contract structured, and paid, the way other third overall picks have been since the 2011 labor deal.
This is logical. Makes sense. It's what every draft pick does and every team accepts.
The Chargers are being more arbitrary. They are pulling numbers and contract structures out of their ass. This is illogical. Makes zero sense.
Why would Bosa accept this? It's not just unfair, or self-destructive, it's borderline immoral.
In many ways, what the Chargers are doing represents the recent shift in how the NFL treats its players. The league, sometimes, has no respect for them as human beings. The league, sometimes, treats players like products to be marketed, CTE be damned. Do what you want with them. Change the rules in midstream. Play 'em on Thursday after a Monday night game.
The Chargers are doing this with Bosa. I know they approached other rookie contracts with similar lunacy in the past, but what they're doing with Bosa is worse. The Chargers are now pushing a putrid public form of contract trutherism, as relayed in the San Diego Union-Tribune by Kevin Acee, and as noted by Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.
There's no need to get into the exact details of this fight or how the Chargers are putting public pressure on their own pick. You can read those details elsewhere (this Michael Gehlken story in the Union-Tribune offers a summary). What is vital in all of this is that a talented young player has lost a season of what are always short NFL careers.
The feeling I get from the Bosa camp is it knows it will eventually have to capitulate. For right now, there are no plans to sit out for the season.
They will fight because they are a family of fighters—his mother is resilient and he comes from a family of NFL players. The family is also smart. They know the NFL's collectively bargained machinery is against them. They will lose this battle.
And Bosa has lost a rookie season. It's over and it's the Chargers' fault.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.