The PLL regular season has a way of just flying right past. It’s All Star Weekend already, meaning just five games remain before the postseason is here. All eight teams have had bright moments, all eight have had down moments. Nobody looks like the clear team to beat, nobody is a clear cellar dweller. The stakes are high every week as teams play for the top spot and a first round bye, a top four finish to secure a spot in the Championship Series (and it’s nice payday), and to avoid finishing last and missing the playoffs with the dubious honor of winning the Brennan O’Neill sweepstakes.
But those are just team stakes. Player stakes are high too. Free agency has added a new element to the offseason as players can choose which team they are signed to play for. Multiple high profile players made moves last offseason, such as Mac O’Keefe, Will Manny, and Marcus Holman. 49 different free agents signed a one year deal prior to this season. Players plan for the short term, a wise move considering money isn’t guaranteed and they are a week away from the player pool at all times. In that sense, dozens of “prove it” deals should happen every year. That group joins the players who had been on two or three year deals expiring this season. The free agent class, just as defined by the caliber of player it takes to actually make a PLL roster, will be stacked. Each team will have to make tough choices.
Here are some players that are of particular interest in the second half. While there may be bigger stars or names hitting the market, there are plenty that aren’t expected to move. Ryder Garnsey recently said on the Sticks In podcast he plans to sign a new deal with the Redwoods in free agency, and has no desire to play anywhere else. Based on how free agency unfolded last year, it’s fair to expect players on the Chaos to sign back with their club. Some teams and players just fit each other, and are meant to be together, with players even leaving money on the table to stay in the locker room they love.
The full list of pending free agents as of July 2023 can be found at the bottom of this article.
Costabile will likely be the name with the most attention. The 2019 draft occurred before the PLL had played a game, so the 2020 draft was the first where teams had a season under their belt and a feeling for what they needed and wanted to target. The draft was shortened due to COVID, but Grant Ament went one, Costabile went two, and the rest of the first round is currently not on an active PLL roster. True for almost the entire 2020 draft. Costabile really doesn’t have guys he was drafted with to join, as a Notre Dame alum his college teammates are sort of scattered across the league, he doesn’t play indoor so there is no NLL affiliation to consider. He’ll be of interest to every team in the league. The Redwoods will likely be the first team calling, but Whipsnakes and Cannons likely should be reaching out as well. If Costabile believes the Atlas have a winner and is committed to it, he should stay. But there’s now been a regime change and the Bulls are in some growing pains.
When the Archers offense is fully loaded, he has been the odd man out, appearing in just two games in the first half of the 2023 season. That said, he has some impressive tape out, showing his ability to play and create from X or running out of the box in the midfield. He was very good in the Sixes games in DC. He won’t be the primary weapon for a team that signs him, but a team who needs offensive depth most certainly should be taking a look at DeSimone as an option.
Molloy was the talk of lax twitter for NOT being on the roster early in the year. The 2016 Tewaaraton winner is still a force on the dodge and creating from the wing at attack. He’s a two time All Star and is just 27 years old. In 2022, he played in all 10 games for Chrome, scoring 25 points on 14 goals and 11 assists. He joined Chrome in 2021 for three games and had 10 points. He’s a productive, physical, dangerous player, but he’s been in just two of Chrome’s first five games. If Chrome shuffles him in and out of the lineup all summer, it could create a situation where an opportunity to be a 19 man regular is more attractive than staying put. Molloy wasn’t thrilled with being left out of the lineup week one, Chrome may need to mend some fences.
Drake Porter made his first for Atlas in Week 5 after a down game from Jack Concannon. He made 11 stops with a 42% save percentage. The Atlas could retain both, but if one gets a firm grasp on the role while the other underperforms, it could become the rare opportunity for an outside goalie to win a spot. Both Concannon and Porter are up for new deals at the end of this year. They are playing not just for a new deal, but feasibly a roster spot. Concannon is a great pro, and maybe the best ever to do it from five yards and in. Porter is the up and comer. Coaches and goalies develop a connection and they stick with each other, so a coaching change being followed by a goalie change isn’t all that unusual.
Perkovic needs a massive second half of the season. He has yet to register a point this year, and is 0-14 shooting, with just one of those shots being a two pointer. In 2021, Perk had his best year as a pro with 24 points, 33% shooting, and hit a whopping five two pointers. He hasn’t looked anything close to that this year. The new offense just doesn’t look like a comfortable fit for him, and a change of scenery may be in order. If he doesn’t produce a little bit this year, free agent interest will be small. But if a team is convinced they can get Perkovic back to his 2021 form, the price tag could be cheap.
While he’s been on the 21 man roster, Williams has yet to appear in a game this year for Chrome. Last year he appeared in just seven games, but scored five goals and added two assists, shooting 42%. The big lefty can run out of the box for some clubs who may not have room for him at attack. He scored 18 points in the Championship Series for Chrome and was a key piece of their gameplan in the title game, and shot 57% while he was there to boot. Teams looking for younger players who can share the ball, and play out of the midfield, could be interested. At 6 '5, 215 lbs, he has the size and physical attributes the Redwoods like in their offensive players, and Junior could find a way to unlock him as a weapon with and without the ball.
Koby isn’t technically a free agent. His deal runs through 2024. But he also didn’t appear in a game until Week 5. A player who isn’t active for 30% of their eligible games can opt out and seek a new contract; if Smith keeps missing the roster, he could fall into that category. Craig Chick has been the primary LSM for Atlas as they Bulls try to be stronger on the defensive end, while Smith is a much better weapon in transition. As noted with Costabile, Atlas are in a regime change and it’s looking clearer which players will be part of the plan. Teams looking to both get younger and get a bit more offense from their poles could be interested in Smith’s services. Chrome in particular could be a good fit.
Sullivan has been sitting right on the edge of being a 19 man regular. He got starter minutes last year for the Redwoods when Eddy Glazener got hurt, and played well. He has a ring, and has been a DPOY finalist back in the MLL days. Sullivan is 30 years old, so a team looking for a youth movement might hesitate. But he’s a winner and a solid player to have in the locker room. As players like Mike Manley and Jesse Bernhardt start reaching the end of their careers, finding another veteran leader on the defensive end is important. Sullivan can fill that role, and likely emerges as a regular starter for the group.
The big question for the Waterdogs. They have a very small pending free agent list, but some key players are part of it. Withers is playing for Peterborough this summer in MSL, a very reasonable thing to do given that he just completed firefighter training and has a newborn daughter at home in Canada. If he wants to play PLL next summer and tour, he’ll have suitors and the Waterdogs will likely be at the front of the line. Even with the changes to thinking related to faceoff, and the Waterdogs going without a specialist most weeks now, that would change with Withers back. If Withers wants to stay close to home, and who could ever fault him for it, it likely means his time with the Waterdogs is coming to a close.
Good luck reading Jeff Teat. Poker faced and quiet. Is he hating being on the Atlas? I doubt it. Is he thrilled beyond belief? I guess? Teat is a man of few words, his game play does all his talking. Teat starts, and stars, for any team in the PLL. He’ll start and end every season in the MVP discussion. He is easily a Top 5 player in the world, both in box and field lacrosse. Indoors he plays for the Riptide, who don’t have too many players in the PLL. Teat reportedly has a deal with Langley in WLA. A decision to take a break from touring and compete for a Mann Cup, like what Lyle Thompson did this year, would send shockwaves through the league.
The full list of pending free agents:
Cade Van Raaphorst