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NWSL free agency in 2023: How does it work? Who is eligible?

Rose Lavelle is one of the NWSL stars entering free agency this offseason. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

The NWSL is kicking off its second year of free agency, with U.S. women’s national team stars Rose Lavelle, Crystal Dunn and Mallory Swanson among the big names.

How does free agency work?

The free agency period, which began Friday, will look a little bit different than it did upon its debut in 2022. Last year, all players on expiring contracts with at least six years of NWSL experience were eligible for free agency.

This year, the pool has expanded. Any player with at least five years of service and an expiring contact is eligible for unrestricted free agency, while any player with at least three years of service and an expiring contract is eligible for restricted free agency.

Unrestricted free agents can negotiate a new contract with any NWSL club, including expansion clubs Bay FC and Utah Royals FC.

Restricted free agents also can negotiate with any NWSL club, but a player’s current team will have seven days to match any offer received, in salary, bonus structure and years. If the team does not match the offer, the player can sign with the new team, as spelled out in the NWSL’s collective bargaining agreement.

Players can sign contracts with new teams for the 2024 season starting on Nov. 20. Seven players eligible for free agency, including Gotham FC’s Sinead Farrelly, have a mutual option with their current club, which would have to be exercised on or before Nov. 20.

Which players are eligible?

The full list of 75 eligible NWSL free agents for the upcoming offseason is available here. Of those, 20 are restricted free agents, and 55 are unrestricted free agents.

Top unrestricted free agents include:

  • Tierna Davidson, Chicago Red Stars
  • Crystal Dunn, Portland Thorns
  • Sarah Gorden, Angel City FC
  • Casey Krueger, Chicago Red Stars
  • Savannah McCaskill, Angel City FC
  • Rose Lavelle, OL Reign
  • Emily Sonnett, OL Reign
  • Mallory Swanson, Chicago Red Stars

Top restricted free agents include:

  • Emina Ekic, Racing Louisville
  • Emily Fox, North Carolina Courage
  • Madison Hammond, Angel City FC