Ranked! The 11 most in-demand MLS players hitting free agency
There are 34 players who will be eligible for this list if their option is not exercised at the end of the season. Those names include several players we assume will see their options picked up, including the New York Red Bulls’ Sacha Kljestan, Toronto’s Justin Morrow and Sporting Kansas City’s Ike Opara. It also includes some big names that might slip into free agency, including Seattle’s Clint Dempsey and New England’s Kei Kamara.
The following list is comprised of the 26 players who do not have an option and are eligible for free agency after the 2017 MLS season. To be eligible, players must be age 28 or older with at least eight seasons of experience in MLS.
We will update the list after the season.
11. Patrick Nyarko, D.C. United
When he is healthy, Nyarko is perfectly capable of being an effective player in MLS. But will teams take a risk on him? He has a long history of concussions, which again have him sidelined in the homestretch of 2017.
Given that, he may need to take a pay cut from his $235,000 base salary next year. His health is first and foremost. If he does continue playing, his pace on the wing is still dangerous, as we saw last season, when he tallied eight assists for D.C. United.
10. Brad Evans, Seattle Sounders
The Sounders legend has had injury issues over the last few years, but his versatility would make him an asset for a number of MLS teams that are looking to inject a bit of veteran leadership. Evans can play at right back and center back and has a ton of experience, including internationally.
Evans currently makes more than $300,000 guaranteed and would undoubtedly have to renegotiate in order to make sense for most MLS teams, but that will be a theme in this list. Evans is the type of experienced player a lot of teams would benefit to add.
9. DaMarcus Beasley, Houston Dynamo
It’s not often a 35-year-old defender would be so high up this type of list, but Beasley is the exception to the rule in so many ways. The ageless left back is still a regular with the U.S. men’s national team and could be headed to a fifth World Cup in Russia next summer. He has plenty of value still in MLS.
Beasley is a great one-year option for a team looking to get over the line to be a true contender, but he won’t come cheap. His current cap number is just a touch over $350,000, and that’ll be the bare minimum that gets it done for Beasley. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him re-up in Houston for one more season; stability will be important in a World Cup year. It’s also not easy to find effective left backs, so a team that needs a couple more pieces to be a true contender could take a shot on him as a bridge to help make a push for the Cup in 2018.
8. Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake
The U.S. veteran turns 36 in April, and certainly is not the player he was a few years ago, but he can still deliver in this league and his veteran leadership would be absolutely vital for some MLS teams. Beckerman fits best with teams that are looking to solidify themselves as playoff contenders and need a veteran to push them over the top.
He could fit for multiple teams in MLS. The question is what kind of money Beckerman would take. His current deal pays him $825,000 in guaranteed salary this season. Would he be willing to take a bigger pay cut, similar to what Beasley did last year in Houston? That’s the big question here.