Fresh off his Western Conference semifinal-clinching brace come reports that the Seattle Sounders and Clint Dempsey are actively working on a contract extension for the 2018 season. FS1 color commentator Stu Holden first alluded to this during the broadcast of Thursday’s game, and FourFourTwo’s Paul Tenoria added some more details on Monday. At the very least, the reports strongly suggest Dempsey is not seriously considering the possibility of retiring at the end of this season.
Holden implied he had talked to someone in the front office and suggested negotiations seemed to be going well.
“While they’ve been in negotiations, we were told yesterday by Seattle that they have ‘a warm, fuzzy feeling’ about him coming back next year,” Holden said, “which makes it seem — and we know they’ve been in advanced discussions — but that Clint Dempsey will be back here next season. At what number, we do not know, but that is good news and he’s certainly proving his worth, yet again, to this franchise.”
Tenoria’s report cited “multiple league sources” and gave the impression that the Sounders are hoping to bring Dempsey back at a salary figure lower than his current reported number of about $3.9 million. Although the Sounders have another option year on the contract, it’s likely for a similar amount as his current deal. If the two sides can’t come to an agreement, Dempsey could become a free agent ahead of his age-35 season.
It seems somewhat unlikely that Dempsey would agree to return at a salary number low enough to be paid down with Targeted Allocation Money, but the possibility is certainly intriguing. It’s also possible the Sounders might just want to free up some actual cash to put toward the Designated Player spot they can open up by paying down Osvaldo Alonso in the offseason.
A contract extension would not only provide the opportunity for Dempsey to try to pass Landon Donovan on the all-time USMNT scoring list (they’re current tied at 57), but it would also give him an opportunity to pass Fredy Montero on the Sounders’ scoring charts. Dempsey is currently one goal behind Montero for regular-season goals (46) and six goals behind the Colombian for all-competition scoring (54). Dempsey is already the franchise leader in playoff goals (5), scoring in four of his past five postseason appearances.