Trinity Rodman signs $1.1M deal with Spirit, making her highest-paid NWSL player
Reigning NWSL Rookie of the Year Trinity Rodman signed a new deal with the Washington Spirit this week that reportedly marks the richest contract in league history.
Rodman, 19, signed a four-year deal worth reportedly more than $1.1 million, per the Washington Post, on the heels of the first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in the NWSL's 10-year history. It is more than six times what she was making on her previous contract, a three-year deal averaging $42,000 in base salary that she signed after being drafted No. 2 in the 2021 NWSL draft.
The deal also comes amid an ongoing ownership 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 NWSL history books. The contract follows her Rookie of the Year selection and the Washington Spirit's first NWSL championship. Rodman helped set up Kelley O'Hara's extra-time goal to win it.
“The way she performed in her first year allowed us to go to the club and push to get a new deal done,” Mike Senkowski, director of North American soccer at Octagon and Rodman’s agent, told Sportico. “And credit to the team: They understood it. They agree 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 U.S. Young Female Player of the Year for 2021.
She was the youngest to ever be drafted into the league when the Spirit selected her in January 2021. Rodman, the daughter of NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, was 18 years old and only the second teenager selected following Sophia Smith, who was drafted at No. 1 in 2020 at the age of 19.
Both Rodman and Smith are currently in U.S. national team camp.
NWSL's first CBA sets up $1M deal
The NWSL and NWSL Players Association reached a five-year deal over the weekend, avoiding any delays to the 2022 Challenge Cup and regular season. Players were to report on Tuesday. The deal raises the minimum and average salaries of players, introduces free agency in 2023 and gives players benefits such as vacation time and paid parental leave.
Minimum salaries increase to $35,000 per year and the NWSL maximum salary for the upcoming season is $75,000, up 43% from last year. Teams are able to use allocation money to boost individual salaries, which the Spirit did for Rodman. Previously, the highest-paid players were USWNT allocated players who had their salaries paid by U.S. Soccer. That agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2021.
Overseas clubs have offered better contracts and more opportunity, but Rodman told the Washington Post she wasn't looking to move.
“I have grown up pretty fast, but I am young,” she said. “This first year was so good and ended so well, I hadn’t really thought about [European options]. Where I am now, I am extremely happy.”
Women's soccer stars, such as Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, typically make most of their money in endorsement deals.
Spirit ownership saga ongoing
The ownership struggle began last summer and has dragged on with various twists and turns. Spirit co-owner Michele Kang, endorsed by players to take over, 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 sold controlling interest to Baldwin, who still has it, in 2019. Kang joined in December 2020.
Kang reportedly convinced eight debt-holders to convert their debt to equity, which in turn gives them the right to vote on such things as a potential sale, per the Post and The Athletic.
The NWSL voted unanimously to allow those Spirit investors to become shareholders and vote on ownership.
“We believe Michele is fully committed to elevating this club and delivering for its players and it is now a matter for [Washington Soccer Properties] shareholders to determine who holds a controlling interest,” the NWSL board said in a statement. “We are committed to allowing the required ownership process to be resolved in the appropriate, orderly manner.”
Baldwin had tried to sell his stakes to Todd Boehly, who is a part-owner of 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 bid.