AFL 2022: Where your club stands in free agency, trade
Jordan De Goey might never win a Brownlow but, if he’s offered $850,000 a year, Collingwood will match. Could the cap rich Bombers make the Pie an offer he can’t refuse?
Round 11 marks the halfway mark of the home-and-away season as a perfect sample size for every club to assess what they have and what they need.
Could letting a highly prized free agent go allow you to cash in on free agency compensation?
Or is there a prudent trade that could get you into the danger zone once more?
Is your club allowing a free agent to leave or attempting to get one in?
Jon Ralph gives his halfway mark report card for free agents and trade prospects.
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The rumours did the rounds last Friday that Taylor Walker had been offered a genuine two-year deal by an AFL contender which the Crows might have to match.
Walker’s manager Michael Doughty doesn’t play those media games, so who knows where it originated?
Here is the score.
Adelaide will sit down with Walker in the mid-season bye at round 13 to assess his future and by July he should be re-signed on a new one-year deal.
Last year it was done by July 1.
Lachie Sholl plays every week but Glenn McFarlane’s report this month that Carlton was interested in the contracted left-footer is intriguing.
In 2020 we thought he could be the best kick in footy.
Not yet, but watch this space on Carlton’ interest.
Adelaide should launch a project codenamed Tom Boyd and try to drag Jason Horne-Francis out of North Melbourne this year and not let up even if it takes until October next season.
Gold Coast’s improved fortunes dramatically lessen the chances of Izak Rankine or Jack Lukosius being in play.
Dan McStay scrounged two goals from 14 possessions against GWS defender Sam Taylor.
His stats profile on Champion Data is this: average disposals, average one-on-one percentage, above average kicking and accuracy, below average forward 50 marks and goals.
It’s not the profile of a player being offered $600,000 per season over five years, and if he arrived at a Melbourne club like Collingwood and Essendon he would get the very best defender each week.
Not the second or third-best defender.
He legitimately hasn’t made up his mind on his future.
He should stay at a club in the premiership window where he will get the third-best defender behind Joe Daniher and Erip Hipwood.
He has kicked 12 goals in nine games and he has never averaged more than 1.5 goals a game in a season.
Rivals are interested in Darcy Gardiner because he’s a quality stopping defender but he’s loyal and likely to stay.
Save your pennies, Carlton.
Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay would be entitled to back the truck up as 2023 free agents and Curnow won’t sign a contract until next year rolls around.
So the Blues could make a smart free acquisition like Todd Goldstein for ruck cover or get into the market for Port Adelaide’s Karl Amon but likely be out-bid.
Lochie O’Brien is solving their wing issues but the Blues are clearly in the market for a quality ball user to balance their glut of inside mids.
A small asterisk — like Mabior Chol before him, O’Brien is a free agent as a previously delisted free agent so if someone wanted to lure him away it is much easier than before.
Paddy Dow has one more year on his deal.
Jamie Elliott is keen to stay as a free agent and is such a point of difference player the Pies are keen to sign him as a centre square mid who can play as a small marking forward.
He’s 30 in August and injury-prone.
He might want a three-year deal. Does he get that or maybe two years with a games-based trigger?
Jordan De Goey will never win a Brownlow.
But he is averaging 21 touches, a goal a game, five clearances, 2.4 tackles. It’s a mighty impressive mix.
Bottom line is if someone else offers $850,000 a season the Pies might match.
If he is offered $1 million a season then walk away, take the pick and use the cap space for a fair but not outrageous offer on a Dan McStay or Cam Zurhaar type.
Has any club had more salary cap space in the last five years?
Out have gone Joe Daniher, Orazio Fantasia, Adam Saad with Peter Wright being paid only $300,000 a year by Essendon this year and maybe $400,000 next year.
Michael Hurley will retire after being paid $800,000 a season and more than that in a back-ended deal in 2022, while Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti’s lucrative deal is finished.
Jake Stringer’s heavily incentive-based deal won’t hurt them this year either.
So in what would be Ben Rutten’s final year if things go pear-shaped again, the list bosses have to be considering a Jordan De Goey-type.
First-year mid Ben Hobbs has upside and Kyle Langford will return from a hamstring but Stringer and De Goey swapping in a rotation from the centre square and goalsquare is a game-changer.
Bobby Hill will again request a trade to Melbourne and why wouldn’t Essendon go again in a year when they should recruit Alwyn Davey’s sons Alwyn Jr and Jayden as father-son selections.
Hurley has a minor calf injury and while the mid-season draft approaches he is desperate to play on and at least try to get back for some late-season games.
What a quality list build from the recruiting and list crew now led by Rob Walls’ son David.
Kids in abundance, a superstar ruckman in Sean Darcy, a young key forward of the future just recruited in Jy Amiss.
And yet Rory Lobb is still keen to move east with clubs like St Kilda sniffing around given Paddy Ryder turns 35 in March.
Here is the issue if Lobb leaves — Matt Taberner’s durability has seen him play eight, nine, nine, 16, 16 and six games (so far in 2022), and the marking tall has never played more than 17 games in a season.
Griffin Logue was dropped unexpectedly early, which saw rival teams flood his management with offers.
The uncontracted 24-year-old might leave but the Dockers would get more for him by the week after 17 intercept possessions two weeks ago then a solid role as a key forward this week.
Worst case the Dockers get back into the draft if that pair leave, having given up their 2022 second and third-round picks.
Why don’t Geelong go and get Todd Goldstein?
Because Mark Blicavs might be their No. 1 ruckman after eight 100-ranking point scores and a 93-ranking point game in his 11 games playing mostly ruck.
He only averages 11 per cent hit-outs to advantage but he averages 17 touches, 4.6 marks, 3.3 clearances, 5.4 tackles, 4.5 score involvements,
Isaac Smith is roaring along in rude good health but Luke Dahlhaus and Shaun Higgins will have to prove they are in the Cats’ best 25 by year’s end to go again.
For the first time in a long time the Cats don’t want for much, as long as Tom Hawkins and Joel Selwood maintain the rage.
Both will go again in 2023 even if their contract talks with the Cats through management firm TLA haven’t kicked off yet.
The Herald Sun understands Suns are now close to signing a new deal with Jack Lukosius and are even attempting to secure him on a deal longer than the expected two seasons.
It is another coup for the club after Ben King’s signature and Izak Rankine wants to stay and surely will.
Levi Casboult will clearly get another one-year deal and likely a pay rise on a current deal of around $100,000 plus match payments, although there is nothing doing on that front yet.
Surely his good mate Liam Jones has to be a consideration as a cheap free agent with Rory Thompson injured again and Mac Andrew only a kid.
Key defender Caleb Graham has some Melbourne interest but is in talks and should stay at the Suns.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY
The Giants are top-heavy.
They have too many inside mids in a running game given a list that includes Tom Green, Jacob Hopper, Josh Kelly, Tim Taranto, Stephen Coniglio, and Tanner Bruhn.
Taranto is in very early contract talks and will likely stay but isn’t certain to do so,
In a perfect world he stays given you don’t trade players at GWS who are keen to build something.
But he is averaging 26.8 touches, 10.6 contested touches, 4.2 clearances, 4.8 tackles, 94 ranking points.
What would a 24-year-old inside beast with a best-and-fairest be worth if he left?
A top-10 pick to a club like Richmond that has its own first-round pick and North Melbourne’s second-rounder at pick 20?
Adam Cerra is a comparable player and the Blues gave up a pick that became 8 and a third-rounder.
The Giants need to shed cap space so bringing in 31-year-old Dustin Martin would be one of the great feats of salary cap gymnastics so surely that can’t happen.
Bobby Hill will still ask for a trade, with Essendon keen again, while Collingwood was also in the mix last year.
A year on, none of Tom Mitchell, Chad Wingard or Jaeger O’Meara have done more to enhance their currency and with another 12 months on the clock surely no one is giving up a first-rounder for any of them.
More than ever before it is apparent that for every struggling club but North Melbourne the full-blown rebuild is dead.
So the Hawks will keep restumping with value types including category B rookie Changkuoth Jiath, No. 76 draft pick Mitch Lewis and mid-season draftee Jai Newcombe.
It is the Adelaide model, finding their way to a Grand Final without early draft picks.
The problem for Hawthorn is that if Jack Gunston leaves the compensation would be scant.
Mabior Chol ($475,000 a year) and George Hewett (around $450,000 a year) on long-term deals only got end-of-second-round compo last year as departing free agents.
Gunston is 31 and might get a two-year deal.
So if the Hawks lose him, it might be for pick 50.
But the cap space could allow them to trade him in for a Dan McStay type, who is five years younger and an inferior model but very gettable.
Lots of unanswered questions ahead for the Hawks list team.
Angus Brayshaw is still loving playing at Melbourne, is still keener to play midfield than half back, is still putting off contract talks.
It’s a genuinely intriguing situation.
What could he get at North Melbourne or Essendon compared to Melbourne?
Say five years at $800,000 compared to four years at $650,000?
It is the kind of knockout deal that would change his life compared to the possibility of being a triple-premiership player?
The Herald Sun has reported Melbourne have lodged some interest in free agent Karl Amon.
Is that as insurance if Brayshaw leaves?
Free agent Jayden Hunt is in the team, playing good footy, desperately unlucky not to be a premiership player after a horribly timed injury last year and keen to stay.
Teammates very confident he would stay over summer are now genuinely unsure, with West Coast turning their attention to the ruck-forward in the knowledge Tim English is days from a new deal.
Can North Melbourne actually afford to lose Todd Goldstein?
Tristan Xerri has had two excellent 20-possession games and been so-so apart from that, while Callum Coleman-Jones has two total goals in four games.
The Roos can’t afford to get worse and would get very close to nothing for a departing 34-year-old ruckman who might get a two-year deal elsewhere.
So what do the Roos do with their bucketloads of cap space?
Glenn Luff, tasked with most of the pro-scouting workload, would have had ideas but he walked out last week.
A Jordan De Goey type wouldn’t come to the Kangaroos.
The experiences of Jaidyn Stephenson, Aidan Corr and Coleman-Jones, who have got worse at the Roos, wouldn’t have player managers pushing their players to get to Arden Street.
It’s why the Roos simply must close the season with some spark and enthusiasm.
Their first call should be to a Josh Kennedy type at Sydney to see if he would fill the Luke Hodge leadership-at-Brisbane role, but the Roos believe Hugh Greenwood is their man on that front.
Football is a business.
If Port Adelaide can get an end-of-first-round compensation pick for Karl Amon and replace him in the side with Xavier Duursma, Miles Bergman or Lachie Jones types on the wing and half back, you just allow him to leave and move on.
It’s that simple.
And you can use that cap space of $600,000 for not trying to match a deal elsewhere on a key back or inside mid.
(Amon is unrestricted so they can’t officially match a free agency bid)
Port wants a striker type in the Dustin Martin or Jordan De Goey mould and if De Goey was keen there would be a conversation to be had.
But the feeling if De Goey left the Pies he would still want to play in big MCG games of the status of Anzac Day, even if a Showdown has exactly that kind of feel.
Travis Boak and Robbie Gray will play on, with early talks surely not far off given their body of work this year.
Full back Trent McKenzie is a free agent, and if rivals were canny they would at least ask his management if he is gettable.
Both Jack Riewoldt and Trent Cotchin want to play on and are in excellent form, with talks on Cotchin’s future perhaps a month away.
The club needs to continue transitioning the elder statesmen out, but it doesn’t feel like shunting them or Shane Edwards out is the right move.
Kane Lambert, needing a hip replacement at some stage to live a pain-free life, will surely have to consider whether that is at year’s end.
Richmond has always believed one of the GWS mids will be gettable this year because as much as the Tigers onball crew is getting it done Cotchin is 32, Lambert banged up, Martin playing more forward, Prestia still a jet but injury-prone.
It won’t be the contracted Tom Green, grandson of Tigers premiership star Michael, but don’t be surprised if the Tigers make a play for a Tim Taranto or Jacob Hopper type.
Marlion Pickett was in career-best form before his two-week absence (suspension, then a migraine) so early talks have already started on a new deal.
It is incredible to think the Saints entered the 2021 national draft with only picks 9, 55, 61, 65, 66 and 68.
They nabbed Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera then two academy picks in Mitch Owens and Marcus Windhager and picked up Jack Hayes in the summer rookie period.
Wanganeen-Milera grows in stature by the week, Owens’ 10 tackles were arguably more impressive than his 10 goals, Windhager has shown glimpses and Hayes is a long-termer despite his ACL tear.
It allows the Saints to at least kick the tyres of Jordan De Goey as a high-priced free agent, aware if they miss on the free agent their midfield looks well stocked.
Rory Lobb, looking for a three-year deal on around $1.5 million, has strong St Kilda interest given Paddy Ryder turns 35 before round 1 next year.
Karl Amon, whose mum is on staff at St Kilda, is another strongly linked to the Saints.
But for the first time in a while if the Saints whiffed on all three a club with its first three draft picks intact in November is showing genuine development from the younger brigade.
Lance Franklin’s early talks are already starting, with chairman Andrew Pridham telling the Herald Sun on Friday night: “He is keen to play, we are keen for him to play, there is no rush. We will see where it lands but we are hopeful. He has been playing so well.”
He was much more dismissive of a bid for Dustin Martin.
“I can tell you categorically we haven’t had any discussions, so I think it’s highly unlikely. There is not a great history of clubs bringing people in at that age to try to grab a premiership and it working.”
So Buddy will stay, Dusty won’t get there given cap constraints, Jake Lloyd is in contract talks and there are big decisions on the uncontracted Sam Reid, Lewis Taylor, Ryan Clarke, Ben Ronke and Cal Sinclair.
Sydney believes Hayden McLean and Joel Amarty are happy and content (both are contracted) even if rivals would believe they might offer more opportunity for the key forwards.
The Herald Sun understands Ollie Florent is working towards a new two-year deal to get him to free agency, and while the Swans will have cap space to bring a player in, there isn’t one desperate list need.
Tim English isn’t far from a new deal, Caleb Daniel is inching closer too and Bailey Dale wants to stay even if rivals would offer more.
Josh Dunkley is in his own contact talks and while Bailey Smith’s talks haven’t started there is absolutely no suggestion his future isn’t at the Dogs.
And yet for all of those priorities the Dogs’ clear intent is to bring in another key back and key forward.
The Rory Lobb ruck-forward type would be perfect to compliment the Dogs given Josh Bruce is returning but is 30 next week and coming off an ACL tear.
A Griffin Logue-Darcy Gardiner type stopper would be perfect for the back six.
The Dogs have some key position backs across the league they believe they could turn into key forwards if they could acquire them but it’s not apparent exactly who those players are.
West Coast isn’t interested in a full-blown North Melbourne style rebuild, keen to get into the draft if Luke Jackson declines what would have to be a monster offer.
So they would listen to offers on some senior players but Andrew Gaff and Jeremy McGovern aren’t going anywhere, Luke Shuey’s body is failing him, Jack Darling has kicked multiple goals twice in 10 games and clubs are interested in Elliot Yeo but aware of his significant body issues.
In an ideal world the Eagles might listen to offers for 27-year-old Tim Kelly, but he isn’t leaving WA given his family dynamic.
West Coast is aware there might be a new Tasmanian team coming in within five years, so if they want three big licks of the draft they better get cracking.
A Tassie team entering the comp in 2027 might get access to some 17-year-olds in the 2025 draft and wipe out the 2026 draft, so clubs are already doing long-term planning.
Of the free agents Nic Nat will sign another one-year deal later in the year.
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Here is the issue — Shannon Hurn and Josh Kennedy should retire given their age and need to play some kids.
But Hurn has averaged 94 ranking points, 21 touches at 82 per cent kicking efficiency and Kennedy’s 15 goals in only eight games leads the team.
Originally published as AFL 2022: Where your club stands in free agency, trade