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Updated: Johnny Russell Signs New Two Year Deal with Sporting KC

Plus there is an option for a third year. JFR isn’t going anywhere!

MLS: Sporting Kansas City at Minnesota United FC Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Updated 9/30/2021 (originally published on 9/26/21). Sporting KC made the announcement official. Russell has signed through 2023 with an option for 2024. The press release makes no mention of if Russell with be on a DP contract or a TAM deal, so read below to understand the roster flexibility differences.

While the results against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday night left a lot to be desired, there was a bit of good news out of Kansas City. Johnny Russell and Peter Vermes confirmed that Russell has verbally agreed to extend his contract with Sporting Kansas City for two more seasons. He was set to be out of contract at the end of the 2021 season, but this will lock him in until the end of the 2023 season. This should shut the door on those rumors that Russell could be leaving.

The news initially broke on the FS1 broadcast but The Blue Testament was able to confirm after the game the deal is verbally agreed to and Vermes expects it to be formally signed this week, “if all goes well.”

“It’s been spoke about for a little while,” started Russell. “We had too many games recently for any chance to really sit down and talk. It wasn’t the right time. I don’t think it’s anyone best interests to talk about that in preparation for games. We had a bit of a break and, like I said, it’s been spoken about for a while but it moved pretty fast this week. I’m delighted to be here. I’ve said plenty of times that I want to extend my stay here. To do that is massive for me. Obviously, I’m not really in a celebrating mood tonight but I’m delighted to extend my stay here and keep pushing to what the ultimate goal is and that’s winning.”

What Does it Mean for Sporting KC?

Besides locking down the team captain and presumably the right-wing spot for the next two seasons, it means a fan favorite stays in town.

As far as salary implications, those are less clear right now. For the 2021 season, Russell’s guaranteed compensation was $1,600,000. That leaves him just under the threshold to be a “true” Designated Player where his contract cannot be bought down. Instead, he technically can have a Targeted Allocation Money deal, which allows SKC some flexibility. He is listed as a DP now, but in theory, because his salary was south of $1,612,500, SKC can use TAM to buy down his deal and add another DP.

However, they may be tempted to leave that flexibility. If they were to add another true DP, then the team would lose the ability to add up to three U-22 Initiative players (Young Money). Unless that new DP is a Young DP. Major League Soccer rules are weird and hard to follow.

It’s unclear when we’ll know more but there could be an announcement this week once the contract is officially signed. First though, Sporting KC need to look to rebound against FC Dallas on Wednesday night on the road.