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Joey Bosa agrees to five-year, $135-million contract extension with Chargers

Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa chases after the ball.
Defensive end Joey Bosa has agreed to a five-year contract extension with the Chargers
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

The Chargers’ 2019 season was impacted by a high-profile training-camp holdout that dragged into late September.

The team faced a similar potential issue in 2020 until agreeing to give Joey Bosa the most guaranteed money in NFL history for a defensive player.

The Chargers and Bosa settled on a five-year, $135-million extension Tuesday, the deal including a record $102 million in guaranteed salary, according to a person with knowledge of the terms.

Barely 24 hours earlier, on a conference call with reporters, general manager Tom Telesco had refused to address Bosa’s contract
specifically, saying only that he hoped the defensive end would report for the start of training camp.

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Turns out, Telesco was playing things cool, with the mega-deal on the verge of completion.

Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa is poised to be in camp amid speculation he wouldn’t report as he seeks a new contract.

Bosa becomes the first player in franchise history to receive a contract worth at least $100 million.

He was one of the final players to report Tuesday as the team’s veterans arrived in Orange County for coronavirus testing.

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About two hours later, news of Bosa’s record extension was official.

Just two weeks ago, Cleveland pass rusher Myles Garrett set the previous NFL mark for a defensive player, signing a five-year, $125-million extension that includes $100 million in guarantees.

Bosa, who turned 25 this month, is coming off a season in which he started all 16 games and finished with 11½ sacks. He also was praised often by coaches and teammates for his commitment to stopping the run.

The Chargers drafted Bosa in the first round — with the No. 3 pick overall — in 2016. In 51 games, he has 40 sacks and 201 combined tackles.

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Entering the final season of his rookie contract, Bosa was a candidate to hold out this summer, a move running back Melvin Gordon attempted a year ago.

Gordon missed all of training camp and the first three games before finally reporting, without a new deal.

He dressed but did not play in Week 4 at Miami before making his season debut against Denver on Oct. 6.

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Gordon struggled in his return as the Chargers season fizzled to a 5-11 conclusion. He finished with a career-low 612 rushing yards and eventually admitted his holdout was poorly conceived.

As an elite defensive end, Bosa was in a position with much more bargaining power than Gordon, the contract leverage of NFL running backs fading dramatically in recent years.

Gordon never did secure a new deal with the Chargers, who opted to let him depart this offseason in free agency. He now plays for the Broncos.

Given their ample salary cap space next year, the Chargers were able to commit to Bosa despite the NFL’s financial uncertainty because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Their economic situation also is aided by the fact they aren’t spending a lot of money at the game’s most important position. The Chargers’ intended quarterback of the future, Justin Herbert, is entering his rookie season after being taken sixth overall in the 2020 draft.

The Chargers still have a collection of prominent players who could be unrestricted free agents after this year. The group includes wide receiver Keenan Allen, tight end Hunter Henry, defensive end Melvin Ingram, center Mike Pouncey and defensive back Desmond King.


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