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With Robbie Gould successfully signed to a multi-year deal, the 49ers can turn their attention to signing their remaining draft picks. Training camp opens on July 26 and their top two selections from the 2019 draft are still unsigned. Should 49ers fans be worried, especially about Nick Bosa?
All in the Family
A common practice in NFL draft circles is to compare a player in the draft to one already in the league, and the most common draft comp for Nick Bosa was his older brother Joey who plays for the Chargers. The two players are very similar in many ways, so much so that 49er fans began to worry about a Bosa hold out almost from the moment he was selected because holdouts, like rushing the passer, appear to be a family specialty. The patriarch of the Bosa family, John, was a first round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 1987 and had a 41-day holdout before signing, but that was during a time when rookies did not have a wage scale and could effectively ask for as much money as the team was willing to pay and as a result holdouts were much more common.
Nick’s older brother Joey was selected third overall by the Chargers in 2016 and held out until August 29, missing the first three preseason games. The NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement (signed in 2011) was supposed to put an end to lengthy rookie hold outs like the one Bosa’s father had by slotting rookie contracts based on draft position. The NFL saw fit to make sure that the money in a rookie’s contract is not up for negotiation, but how and when that money is paid out is very much up for negotiation.
The sticking point for Joey Bosa was the signing bonus deferment and offset language. The signing bonus in rookie contracts can be paid over the first four years of the contract, but Bosa and his representatives at Creative Artists Agency (CAA) wanted the signing bonus paid up front with no offset language. No offset language would only come into play should Bosa be cut before the end of his contract and would allow him to still receive his guaranteed money from the Chargers while getting paid by any club that would subsequently sign him. With the offset in place the Chargers would only have to pay the difference between what the new club was paying Bosa and what the Chargers owed him. According to ESPN, between 2012 and 2015 none of the players selected with picks two through four signed contracts with both signing bonus deferment and offset language; also, the Chargers have a reputation in the league for negotiating in bad faith leading to rookie holdouts so this one should not have been a surprise.
Recent 49ers First round picks:
Nick Bosa being unsigned at this stage of the offseason is nothing new for the 49ers. In 2017, Solomon Thomas, also taken with the third overall selection, did not sign his rookie contract until July 28, thirty minutes into the first practice of training camp. Last year’s first round pick, Mike McGlinchey remained unsigned until July 22, just four days prior to the first training camp practice.
The CAA Connection:
There are currently eight unsigned picks from the 2019 draft (as of this writing), including five first round picks. Nick Bosa (2nd overall), Quinnen Williams (3rd overall), Devin White (5th overall), Daniel Jones (6th overall) and Brian Burns (16th overall) are all unsigned. Additionally, second-round pick Deebo Samuel (49ers), third-round pick Oshane Ximines (Giants) and seventh-round pick Austin Cutting (Vikings), remain unsigned. Of the eight unsigned draft picks, six are represented by CAA, including Bosa and Samuel. Not only are Bosa and Samuel represented by CAA, but McGlinchey and Thomas are as well. Signing in late July appears to be part of CAA’s playbook.
It’s Not Time to Worry:
Signing on the eve of training camp or even a day or two into camp is nothing to be concerned about, especially for Nick Bosa. Bosa is as technically sound as a player can be coming out of college, so for him to miss a practice or two won’t hurt him. If, however, his holdout lasts deep into the preseason as his brother’s did then conditioning will be a concern. Joey Bosa posted 10½ sacks his rookie year, which the 49ers would take in a heartbeat from his younger brother, but Joey Bosa was hampered by a hamstring injury that limited him to only 12 games, something the 49ers would desperately like to avoid with Nick Bosa.
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