COSTA MESA, Calif. -- With exhibition season over final rosters due on Saturday, Los Angeles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco, along with his staff in the personnel department, will have some hard decisions to make.
"There's only a couple spots that we really have to talk about," Telesco said during an interview on the TV broadcast for his team's final preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday. "But it's tough to have to say goodbye to a lot of really good players that did a lot for us. But it's trying to put that best 53 players together, and that's what we're trying to do."
The Chargers have until 1 p.m. PT Saturday to cut from 90 players to 53, and they have already begun the process, waiving undrafted rookie free agent tight end Cole Hunt with an injury settlement Friday.
One thing to watch for is the Chargers have a tradition of finding diamonds in the rough. In 13 of the past 15 seasons, at least one undrafted rookie has made the initial, 53-man roster, and eight of those players have appeared in all 16 regular-season games.
For those who do not make the final roster, teams can keep up to 10 players on the practice squad, and can begin adding players on Sunday after they have cleared waivers.
Another one of those diamonds in the rough over the years for the Chargers was tight end Antonio Gates, an undrafted rookie for the Bolts out of Kent State in 2003.
Asked about the potential for Gates to return, Telesco said it remains a possibility.
"The door for Antonio is not closed, but we'll be prepared either way," Telesco said. "Virgil Green has done a nice job for us. Sean Culkin has done a nice job for us, but we'll have a plan ready to go for Kansas City that first week either way."
Let's take a look at a question from this week's mailbag:
Think the team starts looking at a bosa extension after this year?— huh (@incrediblyaware) August 31, 2018
@eric_d_williams: Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald set the bar high by signing a six-year, $135 million contract, including $87 million guaranteed -- the richest deal for a defensive player in NFL history.
Across town Telesco, along with the rest of the folks at the Hoag Performance Center, certainly took notice.
For now, I don't believe Joey Bosa is in the same stratosphere as Donald, who has won Defensive Player of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year and is a three-time, first-team All-Pro in just four NFL seasons.
Bosa has time to put some hardware on his mantle over the next two seasons, though. He's already won Defensive Rookie of the Year after finishing with 10.5 sacks in just 12 games in 2016.
And, as former NFL agent Joel Corry points out, Bosa is represented by the same agents -- Todd France and Brian Ayrualt of CAA Sports -- who negotiated Donald's deal with the Rams.
As most remember, the Chargers and Bosa's representation had a very contentious negotiation on Bosa's rookie contract which led to him missing all of training camp his rookie year.
Bosa suffered a hamstring strain on his first practice back once he reached agreement, missing the first four games of the year, so it will be interesting to see if that relationship between Chargers' brass and Bosa's agents has been repaired since then.
I think it would be wise for the Chargers to start working on a new deal for Bosa sooner rather than later. According to Corry, the Chargers can begin work on a new deal for Bosa at the end of this season.
There's a couple of things working in Telesco's favor that should help him get deal done. For one, Bosa's comfortable. He bought a home near the team's headquarters, and has a good relationship with defensive line coach Giff Smith and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.
He's also a good fit in Bradley's scheme. Bosa's 23 sacks over the past two seasons is No. 4 in the NFL.
The Chargers did a good job of locking up Ingram to a four-year, $66 contract extension ($34 million guaranteed) after they placed the franchise tag on the South Carolina product last season, so perhaps they will pursue a similar path with Bosa.
For answers to more mailbag questions, click here.