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WNBA 2022 free agency primer: What to know as the action unfolds

Sue Bird (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

WNBA free agency is upon us, with teams extending qualifying offers to 2022 reserved free agents as of Jan. 1. As the activity heats up, we made a cheat sheet to get you ready for what should be an eventful free agency period.

A reserved free agent is any player who is out of a contract and has been in the WNBA for three years or fewer. These players can negotiate only with their previous team. Teams have until Jan. 14 to extend qualifying offers to reserved players.

Any player with four years of service in the WNBA is considered a restricted free agent. These players can negotiate and sign with any team in the league, but their previous team has the “right of first refusal” to match any offer and try to retain the player.

Unrestricted free agents have completed a contract and played at least five years in the WNBA. A player can also become a UFA if they are cut by a team and passed through waivers without being claimed. Unless designated a core player, a UFA is free to negotiate and sign with any team.

A core player, as mentioned above, is unable to negotiate with other teams, but the team that has cored them must offer a one-year supermax contract. The team and player are able to negotiate a longer contract, but the tag will stick to that player for the length of the contract unless the player is traded, waived or retires. Each team has one core player designation, such as Phoenix with Brittney Griner and Los Angeles with Nneka Ogwumike. A player can be cored for only two seasons.

Teams may begin contract negotiations with free agents on Jan. 15, and players may officially sign contracts starting Feb. 1.

Connecticut Sun

UFAs: Briann January, Jonquel Jones

Reserved: Natisha Hiedeman (signed qualifying offer), Stephanie Jones (extended QO), Beatrice Mompremier (signed QO)

Indiana Fever

UFA: Jessica Breland

RFA: Lindsay Allen (extended QO)

Reserved: Victoria Vivians (extended QO), Temi Fagbenle (extended QO), Emma Cannon (extended QO), Chelsey Perry (extended QO), Bernadett Határ (extended QO)

Los Angeles Sparks

UFA: Nia Coffey

Reserved: Te’a Cooper (extended QO), Lauren Cox (signed QO), Marianna Tolo

Chicago Sky

UFAs: Kahleah Copper, Stefanie Dolson, Astou Ndour-Fall, Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot

RFAs: Diamond DeShields (extended QO), Lexie Brown (extended QO)

Washington Mystics

UFAs: Tina Charles, Leilani Mitchell, Theresa Plaisance, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, Shavonte Zellous

RFA: Myisha Hines-Allen

Reserved: Megan Gustafson

Seattle Storm

UFAs: Sue Bird, Cierra Burdick, Jewell Loyd, Breanna Stewart

RFAs: Jordin Canada (extended QO), Mercedes Russell (extended QO), Stephanie Talbot (extended QO)

Reserved: Karlie Samuelson

Las Vegas Aces

UFAs: Liz Cambage, Angel McCoughtry, Kiah Stokes, Riquna Williams

RFA: A’ja Wilson

Reserved: JiSu Park

Minnesota Lynx

UFAs: Rachel Banham, Layshia Clarendon, Sylvia Fowles

Reserved: Bridget Carleton (signed QO), Anna Cruz (extended QO)

Phoenix Mercury

UFAs: Sophie Cunningham, Alanna Smith

RFA: Kia Nurse

Reserved: Shey Peddy, Sonja Petrovic

New York Liberty

UFAs: Rebecca Allen, Reshanda Gray

Reserved: Paris Kea, Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe

Atlanta Dream

UFAs: Blake Dietrick, Tiffany Hayes, Odyssey Sims, Shekinna Stricklen, Courtney Williams, Elizabeth Williams

RFA: Monique Billings (extended QO)

Reserved: Jaylyn Agnew (extended QO), Crystal Bradford

Dallas Wings

The Wings have no free agents and had previously exercised options on Satou Sabally, Tyasha Harris and Bella Alarie.