When MLS’s take on free agency began — it’s a unique one, let’s say — not many players made the list. Fast forward just a couple years, and that list looks totally different, especially for Real Salt Lake.
That’s because RSL’s entrants on the list keep expanding, and that’s a predictable result of having players around for a long time. But it’s still a bit stressful, and frankly, it makes me a little scared.
FourFourTwo’s Paul Tenorio released a list of all players in MLS who are either about to enter free agency with no contract, or who, if their contract option isn’t taken, will enter it.
Of course, teams will have the opportunity to sign new contracts with players, so this list shouldn’t be taken as damning of their chances at remaining.
No option: Immediate free agents
The list starts off very tense for me. Kyle Beckerman is part of Real Salt Lake’s DNA. He’s one of just a small handful of players who made a major impact on our team. Without him, candy doesn’t taste quite as sweet; soda, not as fizzy.
And he’ll be a free agent on December 31. Sure, he’s 35 now, and he’ll be 36 not long after the season starts, but I’d really quite like him to stay for one more year. Or retire and join our staff. That would be fine, too.
We knew this one was coming, especially after all those rumors about Atlanta United in the last offseason. He’s part of who we are, but he’s certainly no Beckerman — simply because nobody is. It would be weird to see somebody else permanently between the pipes, but there’s an air of inevitability about this one.
Maybe he’ll go to LAFC. I hope he performs extremely well there, and that his defense is extremely bad and lets him down constantly when they play against us. That’s all.
I’m actually really curious what happens to Wingert in the offseason. If you’d told me that he’d play 22 games this season, I would have thought we would have had a whole bunch of injuries to make that happen. Well, it happened. In recent weeks, Wingert has performed ably enough, and we know exactly what he brings, even if it’s not everything we’d like out of a left back.
Contract options available
I don’t think we will take Chad Barrett’s contract option, but at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him around in 2017. He’s clearly integrated very well into the club, he’s on a relatively meager salary ($100,000), and he’s willing to play a backup role. There are a lot of questions about what our forward line looks like next year, and I think this rather hinges on who we bring in up top. Will Luis Silva find himself as first choice again? Will Yura Movsisyan still be at the club?
By the same token, if Barrett’s option increase isn’t too substantial, I’d almost expect we sign his contract.
There’s no way we just let Tony Beltran walk. He’s easily one of the top right backs in the league when he’s healthy, and outside of this year, he’s been pretty consistently healthy. He’s a 25-30 game first team player on an extremely favorable contract for Real Salt Lake, with a Players Union-reported salary of just over $200,000.
The real travesty would be if we didn’t lock down a contract with Beltran after signing an option.
I also think we’ll bring back Horst, depending on the salary increase his option entails. He’s established not only that he can start, but that he’s also willing to play a bench role. That’s an important player to have on your team. If he’s willing to continue in that capacity, which I think he would have been projected in from the start of the season, then I think there’s no reason not to keep him around.
Here’s the sad one of the group. Chris Schuler, five years ago, was one of those players you talked about like they were a national team candidate. He played consistently well. He’s a smart defender, he’s towering, and he can score the odd goal or two. He’s even played 12 games this year — his most since 2014. But from June 3 forward, he’s been either dropped or dealing with injuries. When he’s played — sparingly — for Real Monarchs, he’s not made the most of it. It pains me greatly, but I think this might be the end of the line for Chris Schuler in MLS.