Money moves in NWSL free agency
The GIST: The NWSL is growing in every way imaginable, and at this time of year, that’s most evident in the league’s increasingly competitive offseason moves. This year’s expanded free agency and record-breaking contracts are proving that the league’s rapid growth means a more lucrative — and at times, challenging — field of play for all involved. More money, more problems.
NJ/NY Gotham FC: New York is becoming superteam central: first the WNBA’s Liberty and now Gotham. Rather than powering a championship run with free agent stars, the team is recharging its roster after winning the trophy. Emily Sonnett, Rose Lavelle, and Tierna Davidson are all reportedly in advanced talks with the team, which is also courting mutual interest from Crystal Dunn.
- Salary cap restrictions mean this might sound too good to be true, but without hard numbers, it’s hard to know if big-name players are taking the Tom Brady discount or if Ali Krieger’s retirement freed up enough space. If the cap jumps to the estimated $2.7M, it’d be easier for everyone to get star treatment, but the NWSL still has to address issues with its free agency.
Houston Dash: The Texas-based team made a splash by signing Maria Sánchez to a three-year deal worth around $1.5M this week, the largest in NWSL history. As one of the league’s first restricted free agents, Houston was pressed to match offers for Sánchez from other clubs — which will likely be the norm in the near future.
- Dash general manager Alex Singer predicted more large contracts as teams fight to retain players, which could drive up the price. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see deals of even greater significance get executed here shortly, just given where this league is headed and the growth of the league,” she said Monday after announcing the Sánchez signing.
Zooming out: The NWSL is becoming a force to be reckoned with — its media rights deal made more windfalls possible, along with the league’s restructuring of free agency. With women’s soccer getting an overhaul, including more expansion teams, now’s the time for sponsors to tag along for the ride. New York wouldn’t be a bad place to start…