Tuesday started out with indications that Free Agency was off the table, then there was a reported move to a 32/10 system, and now finally Jeff Carlisle reports that MLS has proposed Free Agency for players 28 years of age with eight years in MLS. That much movement during the negotiation process between the league and the MLS Players Union is an indication that a compromise between "no Free Agency" and unrestricted Free Agency is probable and hope of league matches played on time should strengthen.
[A] source with knowledge of the negotiations told ESPN FC that the current offer on the table from the league provides players who are 28 years or older, and who have been in the league at least eight years -- and not necessarily with the same team -- will "have the right to choose their next market" when their contract runs out or when their option is declined.
The source added that the player's previous team will not be able to make a modified offer of a nominal salary increase to keep the player.
That limit means that if their contracts run out, the following Seattle Sounders FC players would be unrestricted free agents at the end of 2015: Cooper, Evans, Barrett, Marshall & Perkins. At the end of 2016, another five would be eligible: Alonso, Scott, Gonzalez, Frei and Pappa. This assumes that the league counts all time in the league towards the 8-year requirement, instead of requiring a consecutive 8-year stint.
Other veteran laden teams likely have a similar amount of players hitting 28/8. Currently only one Vancouver Whitecap meets both numbers, while four Portland Timbers do.
Latest #MLSCBA offer from owners DOES include a cap of only a 10% raise for that so called "free agent". If player makes 50k only then 55k.— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) March 4, 2015
Free Agency is the major sticking point, and attaching salary limitations on restricted Free Agency complicates the compromise. Still, at this point, the negotiations are math problems, not philosophical debates. However, if the Players are serious about achieving full free agency with this year's negotiations, a lengthy strike could be looming. With the owners making significant movement, it seems likely that the players will compromise and accept this something like this form of Free Agency.
Smaller items revolving around per diems, moving expenses and similar issues are relatively uncontested.
Today saw major movement, but until there is an agreement fans should know that things could change quickly.