COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP)Joey Bosa isn’t known for displaying much emotion on or off the field but becoming the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player has slightly taken him aback.
”The best moment was when I got that call from my dad. A lot of screaming, a lot of colorful language but it was a great moment in the car,” the Los Angeles Chargers defensive end said Monday. ”I was telling him to stop because he was making me cry driving home. I was scared I was going to crash.
”It means the world. I had no real expectations on exactly where it was going to end up. It’s hard to even comprehend, you know, with all the amazing players that came before me and will come after me.”
Bosa signed his five-year, $135 million extension over the weekend. The two sides agreed to terms last Tuesday when Chargers veterans reported to training camp for physicals. Bosa reported 10 minutes before the deadline because he was waiting in his car for the agreement to be reached.
The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Bosa acknowledged the extension came together faster than he expected because there weren’t many conversations during the offseason due to the uncertainty created by the pandemic. There were two huge factors in Bosa’s favor – the benchmark was established when Cleveland’s Myles Garrett signed his five-year, $125-million extension three weeks ago and there were concerns Bosa would hold out again.
Bosa, who missed 31 days in 2016 after being the third overall pick out of Ohio State, remains one of the few first-round picks to hold out since the collective bargaining agreement established a rookie salary scale in 2011.
The Chargers were also eager to avoid a holdout involving one of their top players for a second straight season. Running back Melvin Gordon didn’t report until the fourth week of the regular season last year. He didn’t receive an extension and signed with Denver during the offseason.
”They know what I bring to the team and I know my own value,” Bosa said. ”I think they have seen the body of work. Neither one of us wanted to butt heads and I certainly didn’t want to go anywhere else.”
Bosa tied for second in the AFC last season with 11.5 sacks and he has had double-digit sacks in three of his four seasons. He was third among defensive ends and second in the AFC with 60 tackles, including 16 for loss, 25 quarterback hits and a forced fumble. He is averaging 0.78 sacks per game over his career (40 sacks in 51 games). That is third among players over the past four seasons with at least 40 games played.
He now becomes the face of a franchise that is moving into SoFI Stadium in Inglewood and looking to bounce back from a disappointing 5-11 campaign last year. Bosa and Melvin Ingram make up one of the best pass rushing duos in the league but got some help during the offseason with the signings of defensive tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Chris Harris. The Chargers also traded into the first round of the draft to take linebacker Kenneth Murray.
Los Angeles also has safety Derwin James, who missed the first 10 games last season due to a foot injury after he was an All-Pro selection as a rookie. The identity of the team might be more geared toward defense following Philip Rivers’ departure after 14 years as the starting quarterback.
”We’re adding more pieces to the puzzle. I mean, I think it’s up to us to create that identity and we might not know what it is yet, but this is the year to do it,” Bosa said.
Bosa doesn’t know how long he will remain at the top of the league’s pay chart among defensive players, but he has an idea that his brother, Nick, will surpass him in a couple years. Nick Bosa was the second overall pick by San Francisco last season and was an integral part of the 49ers team that reached the Super Bowl.
”It’ll probably be a short-lived record, which is great because I’m happy to just set the bar and, you know, maybe my brother in a few years will surpass me,” Joey Bosa said. ”If anybody can do it, I know he can.”
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