In the first half of his 14-year MLS career, Andy Williams developed a reputation as a journeyman midfielder bouncing around the league from team to team — five to be exact.
The past seven years though, he's been a constant with Real Salt Lake. The fan favorite is the only remaining player from the club's 2005 expansion season and he's played in a team-record 189 games.
Williams might be packing his bags again soon.
Williams' contract with Real Salt Lake expired at the end of the 2011 season, and he will test the waters of the MLS Re-Entry Draft. Arturo Alvarez is also out of contract, while Jean Alexandre, Blake Wagner, Nelson Gonzalez and Rauwshan McKenzie will participate in the draft after RSL declined options on their contracts.
The MLS Re-Entry draft was established in the new 2010 collective bargaining agreement. It's a form of free agency where player contracts are handled by the league.
Stage 1 of the re-entry draft is next Tuesday, while Stage 2 is Dec. 12. In Stage 1, teams must extend a bona fide contract offer to players at roughly their current 2011 salary. In Stage 2, teams can sign players to new or lower contracts. In last year's re-entry draft, only two players were selected in Stage 1.
A player can opt of the re-entry draft until 5 p.m. on Friday.
A day after trading Robbie Russell to D.C. United because of salary cap constraints, general manager Garth Lagerwey said Real Salt Lake would like to re-sign Williams.
"Although Andy is eligible for the re-entry draft based upon his years of service in the league and the fact that his existing MLS contract expires at the end of the year, we are in ongoing discussions with him and we are hopeful that he might remain part of RSL.
Williams' base salary last year was $99,225. The specifics about those ongoing discussions aren't known, but at age 34 it's unlikely that RSL's offer is more than $99,225. Williams may or may not get a similar offer from the other 18 MLS teams, but he seems willing to find out.
Alvarez's base salary in 2011 was $192,585.
If Williams or Alvarez aren't selected in Stage 1, they can opt out of the Stage 2 Re-Entry Draft to resume negotiations with Real Salt Lake at a lower contract. Eleven players were selected in Stage 2 last year.
Williams has played in 189 career league games with RSL, registering 14 goals and 29 assists. In his career Williams has played in 332 games with 30 goals and 86 assists.
RSL didn't make a pick in either stage of last year's re-entry draft, but after trading Russell and then losing Collen Warner in the expansion draft in the past week, Lagerwey and coach Jason Kreis will likely be a more active participants this year.
The other four RSL players in the re-entry draft pool all made the league minimum $42,000 last year.