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A day ahead of the roster freeze in October, teams will have the deadline of their last day to take options on free agents. After the roster freeze, free agents—restricted and unrestricted alike—will be free to negotiate with other teams. Last season, a little over a quarter of players who potentially might become free agents had their options exercised or were given extensions ahead of the deadline. 

Breakdown of 2023/24 Extensions

Thus far this season, only four potential free agents have signed extensions, although right now they are isolated solely to teams in the pacific northwest. The Portland Thorns have re-signed forward Sophia Smith through 2025 with a player option for 2026 while the Seattle Reign has extended defender Phoebe McClernon, defender Sofia Huerta, and defender Julia Lester.

Teams which gave restricted free agents (RFA) and unrestricted free agents (UFA) extensions in 2023 and thus far in 2024. 

Last season, numerous teams were active in giving their potential free agents extensions, with Seattle, Angel City, Louisville, Gotham, and Washington being the most active. On the other hand six teams signed either no or only one extension including Portland, San Diego, Chicago, Kansas City, Houston, and North Carolina. Portland, Houston, and Chicago had league highs of free agents at eight when the roster freeze hit. 

Free Agents given extensions—in chronological order

The majority of 2023 almost-free agents were given contracts through 2024 via the exercising of their options, however, if you break down the contract length by position, it is interesting to see the long-term investment favors defenders and forwards more so than midfielders. 

New contract length breakdown for almost free agents last season.

Overview of 2025 Free Agents (and potential free agents)

Looking ahead at the upcoming 2024-25 offseason, teams range from 12 definite free agents to only two free agents with North Carolina or Washington. Following the 2023-24 offseason bidding wars which occurred and the expanded player movement compared with 2022-23, a large number of teams need to start looking ahead at their plans for 2025 and 2026 and get key extensions in place. 

Breakdown of potential 2024-25 free agency per team

Seattle has been the most active thus far, but their free agency picture still remains the most dire with six restricted free agents and six unrestricted free agents expected this fall. Orlando, Houston, and Kansas City all have eight guaranteed free agents, and with Orlando and Kansas City’s success on the pitch, locking down talent to reduce yearly turnover on high-performing teams will be important. Chicago has had multiple years with offseason exoduses, only has two definite free agents, but a league high of seven 2025 options on potential free agents to focus on. 

Players to watch:

9 NWSL UFA Extension Candidates To Watch

6 NWSL RFA Extension Candidates To Watch