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D.C. United declines options on Jeff Parke and four other players

Oh, you thought the expansion draft protected list was the only list dropping tonight? Ha!

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, we're all waiting for MLS to release the various lists of players who will and won't be available to New York City FC and Orlando City SC in Wednesday's expansion draft. But we've got a little appetizer to get our juices flowing, as D.C. United has released the names of players whose contract options the team will not be exercising for next year. Jeff Parke is the biggest name on the list, and he is joined by Nana Attakora, Alex Caskey, Kyle Porter and Conor Shanosky. The team also declined to exercise David Estrada's option, but it has extended a bonafide offer to the forward/midfielder - more on what that means below.

It should be noted that the club has not technically released any of these players. Under MLS rules, United will retain exclusive bargaining rights within MLS for each of them for various amounts of time. For Estrada, who received a bonafide offer, and Porter, who does not meet the age/length-of-service requirements for the Re-Entry Draft, that time is indefinite - basically until the team trades or waives their rights. For the other four - Parke, Attakora, Caskey, Shanosky - the team retains control over their fates until both stages of the Re-Entry Draft are complete. At that point, any player who is not selected would essentially become a free agent, but with the knowledge every team in the league would also have just passed up the option to sign them - bit of a double-edged sword.

Of the four players with whom United can still negotiate but hasn't made a bonafide offer, Parke is the only one I can imagine wearing Black-and-Red next year. He may hold out through the first stage of the RED - where teams must exercise the contract option for any players they select - in an attempt to keep his current salary, but I would not be surprised to see him resign if/when no team calls his name, even before the second stage, where teams are under no obligation to pay a particular wage and the player therefore has much less negotiating leverage.

So, what say you? Think we'll see any of these players back at RFK next year? Think United should have paid to make sure they stick around? Let us know in the comments.