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    Chargers’ Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa took pay cuts for chance to win
    • June 13, 2024

    COSTA MESA — Khalil Mack said Wednesday he was willing to restructure his contract during the offseason in order to stay with the Chargers because he believed it was his best chance to win. Joey Bosa said he was willing to restructure his contract because he, too, believed it was his best chance to win.

    It might have seemed like a leap of faith to outsiders, given the Chargers’ 5-12 record and last-place finish in the AFC West during the 2023 season. But it was a no-brainer for Mack and Bosa, two veteran outside linebackers who are closer to the end of their careers than to their beginnings.

    Mack and Bosa had their reasons, and they echoed each other in separate sessions with reporters after the second day of the Chargers’ three-day, mandatory minicamp. The hiring of Jim Harbaugh as Brandon Staley’s replacement as coach only heightened their desire to stay put.

    “A lot of things went into it, but ultimately, just understanding where I’m at in my career right now and the best chance to win, that’s what it came down to,” said Mack, who is entering his third season with the Chargers and his 11th in the NFL. “I don’t have any years to waste. … That was an easy decision.”

    Mack, 33, is coming off a season in which he recorded a career-best 17 sacks and topped 100 overall for a career that has been highlighted by eight selections to the Pro Bowl but zero Super Bowl appearances. He played all 17 games last season, and he had no desire to play anywhere else this season.

    “Ultimately, it came down to wanting to win and this was the best team and the best chance,” he said. “There were a lot of different reasons, but understanding when you go to battle with somebody, you kind of know what you’re getting. … I know these guys (the Chargers), man, they’ve got what it takes.”

    Mack said his faith in his teammates starts with quarterback Justin Herbert and continues with “my guys on defense,” including Bosa and fellow edge rushers Tuli Tuipulotu and Bud Dupree. He said he knows what’s needed to turn the Chargers from pretenders to contenders in the 2024 season.

    The Harbaugh Effect was important, too.

    “He’s a straight shooter,” Mack said. “I think one of the first conversations we had I let him know I signed back here to win. To win. I’m not coming on to play competitive football. I want to play meaningful football at the end of the year. So, that was pretty much our conversation.”

    Bosa made similar statements during his interview.

    “I want to win, I want to be on this team,” Bosa said. “I want another shot with the guys in this room, especially Khalil. And, yeah, that’s what it was. Winning football games is more important to me right now than making some extra money. We have a great opportunity here. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have a great year this year.”

    Bosa did not have a great season in 2023. He was limited to only nine games because of injuries, including a season-ending sprained foot suffered during a loss in Week 11 against the Green Bay Packers. He also had toe, hamstring and hand ailments that limited his availability and effectiveness.

    “I think if a guy like Khalil, coming off a year with 17 sacks, can take that (pay) cut, it shows the kind of guy he is and the kind of culture we have brewing here, and that’s who I want to be with,” Bosa said in his first public comments since before he was injured in the game against the Packers last Nov. 19.

    “It was a pretty easy decision.”

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    Bosa, 28, also acknowledged the importance of Harbaugh’s hiring in reworking his contract and remaining with the Chargers for a ninth season. Harbaugh spent nine years coaching the University of Michigan, leading the Wolverines to a 15-0 record and the national championship last season.

    “It’s definitely a factor that we’re bringing in maybe the final piece to figure this stuff out,” Bosa said of Harbaugh’s hiring. “I didn’t really get to talk to him too much before that decision was made, but, yeah, it definitely was a factor. (But also) just the guys on the team and my history here and the way things are trending in the right direction, I wanted to be here for this moment.”

    ​ Orange County Register