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2024 Expansion Draft: What you need to know

© Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, the National Women’s Soccer League released the details on the 2024 NWSL Expansion Draft, The Equalizer breaks down what you need to know

Important Rules

The Expansion Draft rules roughly look similar to the 2022 Expansion Draft; nine players from each team can be protected. This time U.S. women’s national team allocated players won’t come into play, but free agency and the U18 entry mechanisms will. The 2022 rule about teams only being able to lose no more than one player from each position group has been removed.

Any U18 player is not eligible to be drafted and also do not occupy one of the nine protected spots. Both unsigned restricted and unsigned unrestricted free agents are not eligible to be drafted, and do not occupy a spot. If they are signed, the player will need to be protected or risk being drafted by an expansion squad. If a player has a ‘no trade’ clause in their contract, they are required to be part of the nine protected players, unless the player decides to waive the ‘no trade’ clause and make themselves available for other teams.

What that means is that restricted and unrestricted free agents will not likely sign with clubs until after the Expansion Draft so that they don’t need to be protected. The most likely scenario is that like last expansion draft, teams will trade players for protection in the draft in order to keep their core teams intact.

The other new thing for this expansion draft is that for teams who do not make deals for protection, after they have one player drafted, they are allowed to choose a tenth player to be protected.

The expansion clubs are able to get 2023 allocation funds up to the limit of $600,000 as well as an additional 40% of allocation money ($240,000), which can roll over into 2024.

On top of the allocation funds that all teams have available, Bay FC and Utah will also get an additional $500,000 to put towards transfer funds, which will not count towards the allocation money count for said teams.


November 20: Free Agents can sign with new teams.

Expect only Bay and Utah to sign people before the draft, any free agents who sign before the draft would need to be part of the nine protected players or risk being selected.

December 12: Protected Lists Submitted & Distributed

9am EST — Transaction Moratorium: No trades, no signing of players
2pm EST — Teams need to submit their protected lists to the league
8pm EST — The protected/unprotected lists will be distributed to all teams

December 15: Expansion Draft

December 16: Transaction Moratorium Ends.

Expect free agents to start to get signed by the 12 non-expansion squads.

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