Free Agency

2020-2024

The eligibility criteria for free agency has been expanded to include players who are 24 years or older and have five years of service in MLS. This lowers the age and term from the previous CBA, in which players 28 years old with eight years of service were eligible for free agency. The CBA includes caps on the increases in compensation in free agent contracts.

In addition, players making above the maximum salary budget, including Designated Players, will now also be eligible for free agency based on specific guidelines.

  • Under the most recent CBA, to be eligible for free agency a player needed to be 28 years old and have eight years of service in the league. Under the new CBA, the eligibility has been expanded to include players who are 24 years old with five years of service in the league.
  • The new CBA also changes the increases in compensation that free agents can earn:
    • For players making the maximum salary budget charge or less, a free agent can sign a contract with another club with an initial salary of the greater of $25,000 above the maximum salary budget charge, or 15% above the player’s prior salary.
    • For players making between the maximum salary budget charge and the maximum TAM amount, the player could earn 15% above the prior salary up to $500,000 above the maximum salary budget charge and 12.5% of such salary from $500,000 above the maximum salary up to the maximum TAM amount.
    • Designated Players, whose total compensation in the year before free agency was equal to or less than the maximum TAM amount will be eligible for free agency, subject to the compensation limits for players making between the maximum salary budget charge and the maximum TAM amount set forth above.
    • Designated Players whose total compensation in the year before free agency was greater than the maximum TAM amount will be eligible for free agency either as a non-Designated Player with his new team, or as a Designated Player with his new team subject to the criteria set out below.
      • If the player signs as a non-Designated Player, his initial salary may be up to the maximum TAM amount.
      • If the player signs as a Designated Player, the player will negotiate compensation level and contract term with MLS;
        • The player may re-sign with his prior team at the salary amount and contract term negotiated with MLS;
        • If the player was earning from the maximum TAM amount up to $3,000,000, the player may sign with another MLS team as a Designated Player at an amount equal to 10% less than the salary amount negotiated with MLS.
        • If the player was earning above $3,000,000, the player may sign with another MLS team as a Designated Player at an amount equal to 15% less than the salary amount negotiated with MLS.

2015-2019

For the first time in MLS history, out-of-contract players and players whose options are declined were able choose where to play within MLS. Players who are 28 years old with at least eight years of MLS service and are below the max salary were able to freely choose their team within the following salary limits:

  • Players earning less than $100,000 can negotiate a raise of up to 25 percent
  • Players earning between $100,000 and $200,000 can negotiate a raise of up to 20 percent;
  • Players earning $200,000 and above can negotiate a raise of up to 15 percent.
  • The above percentage increases may be raised for players who significantly outperform their contracts.
Series: