The NWSL has announced its expansion draft for Bay FC and Utah Royals FC, but there appears to be an important loophole: unsigned free agents aren’t available for selection.
The 12-round draft, which will be held at 7 p.m. ET Friday, Dec. 15, features rules similar to past expansion drafts, with teams permitted to protect nine players. Players with a “no trade” clause are required to be protected by their club — and if one of the expansion teams selects a player from a team’s roster, that team is allowed to protect one additional player.
With free agents exempt from the draft, though, teams could wait to sign players until after Dec. 15. Top unrestricted free agents include Rose Lavelle of OL Reign, Crystal Dunn of the Portland Thorns and Sarah Gorden of Angel City FC. By waiting to sign a new contract, their teams would not have to protect them.
Several teams have a large number of free agents. The Chicago Red Stars and Houston Dash have 10 free agents each, while Gotham FC has eight, as do the Portland Thorns and Angel City FC.
There are 75 total players eligible for free agency this offseason.
Top unrestricted free agents include:
Top restricted free agents include: