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Will Dax McCarty be one of the first MLS Free Agents?

The Red Bulls midfielder could have options in MLS at the end of the year.

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Dax McCarty came to the New York Red Bulls in 2012. He arrived in a trade that saw the Red Bulls send Dwayne De Rosario to D.C. United. Since then, Dax has slowly built himself into a Red Bull club legend and fan favorite for his play on the field. His play was crucial for the run at the 2013 Supporter's Shield as well as the unexpected run to the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals. He signed a contract extension with the team in 2013 after an impressive 2012 campaign under Hans Backe, and fans expected a long run with McCarty anchoring the midfield. However, it seems like the Red Bulls may have to pay to keep him.

Thanks to Dan Covello, we have this exchange between McCarty and former Red Bulls teammate Heath Pearce that may give us a clue about Dax's status. It seems that Dax is in the last year of his current contract with the Red Bulls. When Once a Metro reached out to the team for confirmation, a spokesperson stated that the team does not discuss contract details. This is not unexpected as MLS is very tight lipped when it comes to player contracts. Normally, a MLS player in the last year of a contract would't be big news, but with the brand new Free Agent rules introduced as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, this will mean a lot going forward for McCarty and the Red Bulls.

Dax McCarty qualifies for free agent status based on the following criteria:

  • 28 years old - Dax was born April 30, 1987, making him 28 years old.
  • 8 years of MLS service regardless of teams - Dax is in his 9th straight MLS season, starting with FC Dallas in 2006.

So if this is the last year on Dax's contract, he is free to join any team in MLS he wishes, but not at any salary.

FREE AGENCY: For the first time in MLS history, out-of-contract players and players whose options are declined can 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 will be 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; and
  • 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.

So that means Dax, who's 2015 guaranteed salary is at $262,500.00 according to the Player's Union, can go play for any other MLS team, but only get a max salary of $301,875 in 2016. If he were to stay with the Red Bulls he could be given more than that or even a Designated Player contract. Of course there's always the option to leave MLS after the season is over.

Whatever the case is, if this is Dax's last season on his existing contract, it can be said that the Red Bulls will be forced to pay to keep him.

Once a Metro have reached out to McCarty's representatives for this post, and will update this post when a response is received.