This offseason is the first in National Women’s Soccer League history with free agency for (certain) out-of-contract players. Let’s explain how it all works.
In October, a landmark season wrapped for the National Women’s Soccer League. In besting the upstart Kansas City Current in a championship showdown, the Portland Thorns capped off the first season in NWSL history to be played under a collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NWSL Players Association.
Yes, there’s still far to go with regards to player play, health and safety considerations, and quality of life with regards to travel and accommodations, but one major step forward for labor in women’s pro soccer officially realized itself on Nov. 15 — the first-ever signings in NWSL free agency history may officially commence.
So, who’s officially a free agent here and now? How does the league deal with touchy subjects like tampering? Are any superstars up for grabs? You have questions, Boardroom has answers.
What makes a player eligible for NWSL free agency?
Free agency in the NWSL does not apply to every player whose active contract expires. Rather, no fewer than six years of service time within NWSL are required.
Are there any restrictions on teams re-signing their own players?
As long as roster and salary cap restrictions under the CBA are observed, teams can sign any of their currently rostered players to a contract extension whenever terms are mutually agreed.
Was any contact with outside free agents permitted before Nov. 15?
Even before the end of the NWSL, in fact! As soon as the league’s “Roster Freeze” goes into effect — the date by which teams can no longer make any roster moves, whether addition or subtraction — players set for free agency in the subsequent offseason can begin negotiations for a new contract. This year, that date was Aug. 26.
Wait, does that mean tampering has been permitted to take place for the past seven-ish weeks?
If your definition of tampering is “engaging in negotiations with players currently under contract with other teams,” then the answer is yes.
Are any US Women’s National Team Players free agents?
Who’s the biggest non-USWNT name on the free agent board?
None other than Marta, the Brazil icon and six-time FIFA World Player of the Year who just wrapped her sixth NWSL season, all with the Orlando Pride.
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