John Spanos

AFC Notes: Bolts, Raiders, Dolphins, Joeckel

After a second straight Chargers season faces the prospects of being overrun by injuries, the team is planning to expand its offseason studies in this area. The organization appears set to devote more resources to researching injuries come 2017, given what’s happened over the past month.

I can assure you this year is going to be more in-depth and thorough than ever before,” Chargers president John Spanos said, via Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

This year’s Chargers have lost numerous key players, from the preseason injury to Stevie Johnson to the early-season carnage that’s taken out Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead, Jahleel Addae, Manti Te’o and now Jason Verrett. Antonio Gates and Joey Bosa have also missed extensive time due to injuries. This comes after 2015’s spate of maladies that helped put the Bolts in the top five of a draft for the first time since 2004.

Gehlken points out the early portion of this decade did not bring the trouble the past two years have, with ACL and Achilles tears sparse before the ’15 season. Several within the organization said they’ve never seen anything like what’s happened to the Chargers on the health front the past two years, per Gehlken.

Here’s more from the AFC as most of its franchises prepare for their fifth games.

  • Al Davis‘ death staggered the Raiders and left them without a true GM for most of the 2011 season, but it ended up triggering the franchise’s steady climb back to respectability, Kevin Acee of the Union-Tribune writes. In addition to Reggie McKenzie drafting better than his predecessor, at least in the several years before his death, the Raiders hired a coach in Jack Del Rio who demanded facility upgrades, Acee writes.
  • The Dolphins aren’t sold on Ja’Wuan James‘ long-term potential at right tackle, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. A Dolphins source questioned the third-year player’s drive, noting the team hasn’t done enough to provide competition for him at that spot. Billy Turner replaced James against the Browns before James reacquired the job due to a Turner injury. “That was a wasted pick for a first-rounder,” former front-office executive Ken Herock told Jackson. “He should have been a third- or fourth-rounder. I questioned his strength, his recovery ability. Those are things I didn’t see.” Pro Football Focus rates James as the No. 44 tackle thus far in 2016 among the 75 who qualify as full-timers.
  • Jackson also notes Chiefs center Mitch Morse and Chargers inside linebacker Denzel Perryman drew support from members of the Dolphins front office during Day 2 of the 2015 draft, but Mike Tannenbaum opted to trade down and snag defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, who has not produced to this point, in the second round.
  • Luke Joeckel‘s surgery could make a return to the Jaguars more likely in 2017, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union writes. Although the former No. 2 overall pick has not panned out, a strong season at guard would have created a robust market for Joeckel instead of one that could well be tepid due to a small work sample at his second position. Joeckel proved ill-equipped at left tackle, prompting the Jags to bring in Kelvin Beachum, and played just 155 snaps at left guard before undergoing surgery to repair his ACL, MCL and mensicus. O’Halloran notes the team liked what they saw from Joeckel inside. He stands to be a UFA if not re-signed after the Jags declined his fifth-year option.
  • The Broncos are planning to give Paxton Lynch his first NFL start Sunday after deeming Trevor Siemian unfit to return.

Chargers’ Spanos On Joey Bosa Saga

Earlier this week, the Joey Bosa saga finally came to a close when the Chargers and the rookie’s reps compromised on a contract. As the talks dragged on, the tenor of the negotiations got uglier and uglier, including the Bolts’ unprecedented move of publicly releasing details of their contract offer. That press release raised eyebrows in the football world, but team president of football operations John Spanos says he has no regrets. John Spanos (vertical)

[RELATED: Chargers Release James Jones]

Obviously, it was a difficult decision,” Spanos told Xtra 1360 Fox Sports Radio (via ESPN.com). “Any time you’re in a tough negotiation, everything you do is a difficult decision. And let me be clear: It’s certainly never our preference to make any public comments. It’s not how we’ve operated in the past, I would say, and only [on] the rarest of occasions. In fact, I’ve probably been involved in hundreds of player negotiations and contract agreements, whether it’s helping out or leading, throughout my lifetime, and that’s the first time I’ve ever said anything public.

So that shows you how rare that is. It’s not what we prefer to do — only, I would say, when we’re forced to do it. The bottom line is if someone were to tell me that’s why we got it done, then, yeah, I would do it again, because our goal the whole time was we wanted him here. And we were going to do whatever it takes to get him here.”

Releasing the details of the offer probably rubbed Bosa the wrong way and some believe that it could give pause to rookies and free agents in the future. Spanos personally believes that free agents will not be deterred by the tenor of the Bosa negotiations and feels that sunny San Diego will continue to be a desirable landing spot for players. I can’t dispute the appeal of San Diego as a city, but I have my doubts as to whether players will turn a blind eye to the way the Bosa discussions went.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Spanos: Bosa’s Holdout “Absolutely Asinine”

With the Chargers and first-round defensive end Joey Bosa embroiled in the ugliest contract dispute the NFL has seen since introducing the rookie wage scale in 2011, team president John Spanos expressed frustration about the situation Wednesday.

“I’m highly, highly disappointed in the path we’ve had to take,” Spanos told Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It’s so overly clear we had no choice. It would have been more difficult if I felt they were being reasonable. But when you’re dealing with someone who isn’t reasonable, it makes it easy.”

Joey Bosa (vertical)

Spanos’ words came in response to the decision Bosa’s camp made to reject the Chargers’ latest proposal, which was the best one the franchise has put forth in the three-plus months since drafting him third overall.

The Chargers offered to pay the ex-Ohio State star 85 percent of his $17MM signing bonus this year (up from the previous figure of 61 percent), according to Acee, but he turned it down and the club then pulled the proposal off the table Wednesday. Bosa’s agent, Brian Ayrault, is no longer requiring the Chargers to pay the full bonus up front, sources told the Union-Tribune’s Michael Gehlken, though it’s unclear how far he has come down from that demand. Not nearly enough, if you’re to believe Spanos.

“What you do is you compromise,” he stated. “We moved and we moved and we moved. They weren’t moving.”

Notably, this type of dispute isn’t foreign to the Chargers, who were in a similar dust-up with first-round quarterback Philip Rivers in 2014, as Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes. Then, on this date 12 years ago, Rivers signed. He remains the Bolts’ signal-caller to this day, of course, proving that a contentious holdout doesn’t have to ruin a relationship between the player and team.

Bosa’s fight with the Chargers goes beyond the payout of a signing bonus, as the 21-year-old and the organization have also been battling over offset language. If a player with offset language in his contract is released midway through the pact, the original team is only on the hook for the difference in salary between the two deals. Without offset language, the player can effectively collect two paychecks. Naturally, there are many agents – including Ayrault – who are disinclined to forfeit that potential earning power.

“I’m blown away. At all costs I wanted to avoid going down this road. They made it overly clear we had no other option,” continued Spanos, who referred to Bosa’s holdout as “absolutely asinine.”

Despite the acrimony between the two sides, they’re stuck with each other through the current season. The Chargers had until Aug. 9 to trade Bosa’s rights, but they opted to retain him. If Bosa doesn’t sign by the Tuesday after Week 10, he won’t be eligible to play at all this season. San Diego would then control Bosa’s rights up to next spring’s draft, at which point another team would be able to select him and try its luck in locking him up.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Rumors: Bennett, Bosa, Broncos

Already announcing he won’t be a threat for a training camp holdout, Michael Bennett is not operating in a contentious manner toward his employer this offseason. The dynamic Seahawks defensive end, though, remains in pursuit of a redone contract as he enters his third season on the four-year, $28MM deal he signed in 2014.

The 30-year-old Bennett also acknowledges he does not reside atop the Seahawks’ figurative contract-extension queue, with contract-year receiver Doug Baldwin occupying that spot.

I think [the lines of communication] definitely are [open]. I think John [Schneider is] definitely open to it,” Bennett told media, including ESPN.com’s Sheil Kapadia, of a contract extension. “Pete [Carroll‘s] waiting. Obviously, Doug’s up before me, and I understand that, and I want that to happen. I think Doug Baldwin deserves a new contract. So do I. So does Kam [Chancellor]. So it’s just all about waiting in line and not pushing it too far and understanding what’s up next.”

Seattle still has two of the best players at their respective positions on below-market-value deals, with Chancellor set to make $6.1MM this season. But while the team has multiple standouts longing for new deals for a while, this displays the Seahawks’ acumen for identifying talent. Baldwin, who could be one of the most coveted free agent receivers in 2017 if not extended, is entering the last season of a three-year, $13MM deal but expects to discuss an extension with the Seahawks soon.

Bennett has been one of the league’s best defensive ends for a few years now, yet his $7.13MM AAV ranks just ninth in the league. Olivier Vernon now more than doubles Bennett’s per-year wages, which would seemingly add to the fuel Bennett showed last year when he threatened to hold out, especially after he finished with a career-high 10 sacks last season. Set to turn 31 in November, Bennett may have seen his opportunity for a windfall contract pass.

Here’s the latest from the Western divisions.

  • Chargers GM Tom Telesco spent the offseason hoping to be in position to select Joey Bosa but didn’t think his team would be in position to do so until after the Browns-Eagles trade gave the quarterback-seeking Eagles the No. 2 pick. “Watching Joey play in the Fiesta Bowl, I left there thinking if he does declare, and if he is there at number three, we’ve got to take him,” Telesco told Ricky Henne of Chargers.com. “… [Football operations president John Spanos] got the text and told us about the trade, and we all high-fived in the room after that one because we knew if we stayed here and picked, we got him.” The Ohio State defensive end who finished his three-year career with 51 tackles for loss intrigued Telesco dating back to his 2013 freshman season, when the then-new Chargers GM traveled to an Ohio State-Purdue game.
  • To the amazement of Spanos, Bosa’s standing within the organization did not make its way toward pre-draft speculation, with the Chargers linked to Jalen Ramsey, Laremy Tunsil or Ronnie Stanley. “We would look around at each other and say, ‘Man, I can’t believe no one knows,'” Spanos said. “… Sometimes when you hear rumors, you can piece together where it came from. In the specific case of the Ronnie Stanley rumor, I have no clue where that came from. So I was really amused, and I didn’t feel a need to set the record straight. I just sat back and enjoyed the false speculation.”
  • The primary holdup in Von Miller‘s extension with the Broncos will be the guaranteed money over the first two years, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes. Renck notes the Broncos’ penchant for frontloading contracts to protect themselves in case of down-the-line performance declines — Aqib Talib‘s six-year, $57MM deal that features just $3MM in guaranteed money after this season is a prime example — could bring Miller’s two-year guarantee total to $60MM. That would surpass Ndamukong Suh‘s $59.9MM for the most guaranteed dollars among defenders. Renck also estimates Miller’s per-year payments will be between $18-$20MM. Miller has already been linked to seeking $22MM annually and the Broncos have offered $17MM+, but Renck expects the Broncos’ exclusive franchise tag leverage will bring that number down since Denver isn’t negotiating against other teams like the Giants were with Vernon or the Dolphins were with Suh last year.

Chargers Notes: Policy, Barksdale, Spanos

The Chargers and Raiders have hired Carmen Policy to oversee the potential football project the two teams would share, according to Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal (on Twitter). Policy, who held senior roles with the 49ers and Browns and has been out of the NFL for over a decade, believes that the NFL will put the project “on the fast track.” Since leaving the NFL, Policy’s main occupation has been his winery in Napa, but he says he’s excited to be back in football in some capacity. Here’s more on the Chargers..

  • Right tackle Joe Barksdale is visiting the Chargers, as Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego writes. The veteran started 29 games the past two seasons, all at right tackle, for the Rams.
  • Chargers Chairman of the Board Dean Spanos announced that his two sons will be elevated to President-level roles. A.G. Spanos has been named President – Business Operations and John Spanos has assumed the role of President – Football Operations. John held the position of executive vice president of football operations for the past two seasons.
  • Dean Spanos will now focus on the Chargers’ stadium situation, Jim Trotter of ESPN.com writes.