The NWSL silly season has begun. With Monday, November 4 as the deadline for teams to exercise contract options or extend new contract offers, Reign FC announced that 23 player contract options has been exercised and the club extended offers to 7 others whose contracts expired this year.
The 23 players who had their options exercised for the 2020 season are goalkeepers Sammy Jo Prudhomme and Casey Murphy; defenders Steph Catley, Steph Cox, Schuyler DeBree, Celia Jiménez Delgado, Kristen McNabb, Megan Oyster and Taylor Smith; midfielders Morgan Andrews, Allie Long, Rebecca Quinn, Rosie White, Bev Yanez and Morgan Proffitt; and forwards Shea Groom, Darian Jenkins, Megan Rapinoe, Addison Steiner, Jodie Taylor, Bethany Balcer, Ifeoma Onumonu and Jasmyne Spencer.
NWSL contracts have typically been one-year deals, with the club having the option to extend that contract into a second season. When the club states that it exercised a contract option, they are utilizing that second-year option.
Meanwhile, seven players whose contracts expired at the end of the season have received new contract offers: goalkeepers Michelle Betos and Lydia Williams; defenders Lauren Barnes, Theresa Nielsen and Christen Westphal; and midfielders Rumi Utsugi and Jess Fishlock.
Only two players did not receive contract offers: goalkeeper Scout Watson and forward Jaycie Johnson, who had another surgery this year to recover from lingering knee issues. Watson and Johnson are now available for any team in the league to sign via the Re-Entry Wire, which began at 10 AM PT on Monday, November 4. Teams have until Tuesday, November 5 at 1 PM ET to make submissions for players on the wire and results will be announced that same day at 3 PM ET.
In extending offers to 30 players, Reign FC are likely preparing themselves for a few different scenarios. The first is a potential Expansion Draft, as Sacramento is still rumored to be joining the league in 2020. Having a larger roster will be of benefit to the club when they inevitably lose a player or two in that draft.
It’s also possible that Reign FC expect a few players to retire or pursue other opportunities. Others may be made available in a trade with another NWSL team. With four goalkeepers receiving contract offers or extensions, the writing is on the wall for one or two of them to depart before the season kicks off.
When it comes to international spots in 2020, Reign FC currently have nothing major to worry about. While Reign FC had five international spots this year, one of those spots was acquired from the Chicago Red Stars and was only for the 2019 season. Five players were considered international at the end of this year: Nielsen, Catley, White, Quinn, and Celia. Fortunately, Quinn should be allocated by Canada in 2020 — as she will be starting the season on an NWSL team this time around — which means she wouldn’t require an international slot.
There’s still plenty to figure out between now and the 2020 season. Expansion draft. Trades. NWSL College Draft. Oh, and a new Reign FC head coach to worry about. But the message the club sent today is that they feel confident in their current squad and want to bring more consistency to the 2020 season — regardless of who steps in as coach.
As the ever-so-long NWSL offseason begins, many players are heading south for more soccer and sunshine. With Australia’s W-League kicking off this weekend, three Reign FC players have signed with Melbourne City FC: Barnes, Catley and Williams. We might see a few more Reign FC names pop up this week, as more W-League signing news slowly trickles in.