Trinity Rodman signs NWSL’s first $1 million contract
Reigning NWSL Rookie of the Year Trinity Rodman signed a new deal with Washington Spirit this week in what is reportedly the richest deal in league history.
Rodman, 19, signed a four-year deal reportedly worth more than $1.1 million, immediately after signing the first Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in the NWSL’s 10-year history, according to the Washington Post. It’s more than six times what she made from her previous contract, a three-year contract with an average base salary of $42,000, which she signed after being drafted No. 2 in the 2021 NWSL draft.
The deal also comes amid an ongoing property battle sparked after players said former head coach Richie Burke verbally and emotionally abused them.
Rodman signs historic contract
Rodman keeps adding her name to the NWSL history books. The contract follows her Rookie of the Year election and Washington Spirit’s inaugural NWSL championship. Rodman helped set up Kelley O’Hara’s goal in overtime to win it.
“The way she performed in her freshman year made it possible for us to go to the club and push to get a new deal done,” Mike Senkowski, Octagon’s director of North American football and Rodman’s agent, told Sportico. “And thanks to the team: they got it. They agree that they have a generational talent [in Rodman]and they wanted to reward that.”
Rodman led the league in assists with seven and scored seven goals. She was named the 2021 US Young Female Player of the Year.
She was the youngest ever drafted into the league when The Spirit selected her in January 2021. The daughter of NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, Rodman was 18 and only the second teenager to be selected after Sophia Smith, who was drafted No. 1 in 2020 at age 19.
Both Rodman and Smith are currently in US national team camp.
The NWSL’s first CBA strikes a $1 million deal
The NWSL and NWSL Players Association struck a five-year deal over the weekend to avoid delays in the 2022 Challenge Cup and regular season. Players should report on Tuesday. The deal raises minimum and average player wages, introduces free reign in 2023, and offers players perks like vacation time and paid parental leave.
Minimum wages increase to $35,000 per year and the NWSL cap for the upcoming season is $75,000, up 43% from last year. Teams can use allocation funds to increase individual salaries, which the Ghost did for Rodman. Previously, USWNT’s highest-paid players were assigned players whose salaries were paid by US Soccer. This agreement expired on December 31, 2021.
Overseas clubs have offered better deals and more opportunities, but Rodman told The Washington Post she doesn’t want to switch.
“I grew up pretty quickly, but I’m young,” she said. “That first year was so good and ended so well, I hadn’t really thought about it [European options]. Where I am now I am very happy.”
Women’s soccer stars like Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe typically make the most money from endorsement deals.
Spirit Ownership Saga continues
The property fight began last summer and has dragged on with various twists and turns. Spirit co-owner Michele Kang, who has been endorsed by players for the acquisition, has offered $35 million to buy the team.
She reportedly took control of the team from co-owners Steve Baldwin and Bill Lynch. Lynch founded the team in 2013 and in 2019 sold the majority stake to Baldwin, who still owns it. Kang joined in December 2020.
Kang has reportedly convinced eight creditors to convert their debt into equity, which in turn gives them the right to vote on things like a possible sale, according to The Post and The Athletic.
The NWSL voted unanimously to allow these Spirit investors to become shareholders and vote on ownership.
“We believe Michele is fully committed to improving this club and delivering for its players and it is a matter for him now [Washington Soccer Properties] Shareholders to determine who holds a controlling stake,” the NWSL board said in a statement. “We are committed to ensuring that the required ownership process is resolved in a reasonable and orderly manner.”
Baldwin had attempted to sell his stake to Todd Boehly, who co-owns the NBA’s Lakers, MLB’s Dodgers and WNBA’s Sparks in Los Angeles. The price was $25 million, a full $10 million less than Kang’s offer.