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Ron Waxman reveals the true value of Tim Parker’s contract

We knew it was a big deal. Now we know exactly how big.

MLS: Eastern Conference Semifinal-Columbus Crew SC at New York Red Bulls Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Occasionally outspoken soccer agent Ron Waxman represents the New York Red Bulls Tim Parker - who just signed a new deal with RBNY that is in itself a big deal, three times over.

It is a big deal for the Red Bulls because it means they have their entire 2018 starting back four - the league’s best defense last season - under contract for 2019.

It is a big deal for Parker because it reportedly makes Parker one of the best-paid defenders in MLS, and elevates his salary to a level rarely enjoyed by a defender in a league that historically undervalues defenders.

It is a big deal for the league because MLS reportedly had been blocking efforts by its own teams to give Parker a contract of this size - perhaps because it will likely have landmark status in guiding future contract negotiations for similarly prized defenders.

So Waxman has good cause to celebrate on his client’s behalf, and on behalf of any future clients who want to be well-paid defenders in a league that tends to try to avoid paying defenders well.

Exactly how big is the deal? It was officially announced as a “multi-year MLS contract using Targeted Allocation Money” - which is basically MLS code for “between $500,000 and $1.5 million per year”. That isn’t big bucks on the global soccer market, but it is pretty big bucks for an American defender in MLS who has never played in Europe.

As OaM’s James Justice has noted, RBNY basically got its entire starting back-line for around $500,000 in 2018. And paying over $500k for any defender whose salary history hasn’t been boosted by a stint in Europe is a rare thing in MLS.

All MLS clubs are shopping for players on a restricted budget, so while RBNY deserves a lot of credit for putting together the league’s best defense for less that it would cost to hire Chad Marshall and Ike Opara, or half the price of Andreu Fontas - the Red Bulls bargain back-line is mostly a consequence of the fact MLS caps and constrains salaries and all the league’s clubs have to shop for bargains, whether they like it or not.

Keeping that back-line together for anything more than the next season will be a challenge, especially since Parker’s contract just blew the doors off what it takes to lock down a top-tier, in-his-prime defender in the league.

Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep first reported Parker had been handed a three-year deal. Reporting for ProSoccer USA, Dylan Butler advised Parker’s deal was “in the neighborhood of $700,000 in the first year and up to around $800,000 at the end”. Ron Waxman weighed in with a more specific figure:

That’s $800,000 per year, more or less: enough for RBNY to land six or seven league-best defenders at the prices it paid in 2018. But undervalued players don’t necessarily stay undervalued for very long, even in MLS. And as Tim Parker’s agent just pointed out, there is at least one player representative working in North America who knows how to crack MLS’ self-imposed salary restraints and get defenders in the league on to a new pay-scale.