AFL trade news: Stay up to date with the latest contract, free agent and player movement buzz

The fact Izak Rankine is South Australian isn’t the only thing that could get him to the Adelaide, with an important figure having ties to the club.

Adelaide is making a major play for homegrown forward Izak Rankine in what would be one of the biggest coups of this year’s trade period.

Gold Coast officials have long been confident of retaining Rankine after already re-signing fellow South Australian Jack Lukosius, as well as Ben King, Ben Ainsworth, Elijah Hollands and Mac Andrew.

The Suns are also expected to soon ink Lachie Weller on a four-year contract.

Rankine, who was drafted from SANFL club West Adelaide with the No.3 pick in the talent-laden 2018 class, is out of contract at season’s end but is not a free agent.

The Crows would likely need to part with their first-round draft selection, which is currently No.4 after their weekend win over Carlton, if they convince Rankine to leave, but that may be only the start of what was required.

Is Izak Rankine worth $800,000 a season?
Is Izak Rankine worth $800,000 a season?

However, the 22-year-old’s contract status, and the possible threat of Adelaide grabbing him in the pre-season draft, could complicate any potential negotiations.

The Blues did exactly that with ex-Gold Coast footballer Jack Martin three years ago after discussions between the clubs broke down, heavily front-ending his deal to ward off other suitors.

Essendon already made a lucrative pitch to Rankine’s management this year to try to lure him to Victoria, with the young star’s career-best season catching rivals’ attention.

His agent, Garry Winter, of W Sports and Media, was previously on Adelaide’s board, and it could be worth up to $800,000 per season for Rankine to become a Crow on a long-term deal.

Rankine’s three-goal performance against West Coast on Sunday was his seventh match with multiple majors in 2022, along with averaging 14 disposals and six score involvements.

He would be a significant upgrade on rebuilding Adelaide’s small forward corps and could form a deadly duo with last year’s first-round draftee Josh Rachele.

Rankine has produced a stunning season for the rejuvenated Suns. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Rankine has produced a stunning season for the rejuvenated Suns. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

Rachele’s 17 goals rank fourth at the Crows – behind tall targets Taylor Walker (42) and Darcy Fogarty (22), as well as spring-heeled forward Shane McAdam (18) – while Ned McHenry and James Rowe have each kicked only 10.

They sit in the bottom four on the ladder and for scoring, so Rankine would provide an excellent boost ahead of a season where Matthew Nicks’ team hopes to take a leap.

Adelaide’s list management team met with Melbourne goalsneak Kade Chandler, another South Australian, during last year’s trade period before he decided to stay at the Demons.

The Crows were linked with Western Bulldogs midfielder Josh Dunkley for many months but it’s now believed Port Adelaide would be the South Australian club he would join if he left the Kennel.

Dunkley’s girlfriend, Tippah Dwan, plays netball for the Adelaide Thunderbirds.

Asked last week about the delay in Rankine re-signing, Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew said they were “still confident” he would be at the club in 2023.

“There’s always a process. Things happen at different rates and different speeds,” Dew said.

“A number of contracts we’ve done have actually taken longer, so as long as the conversations are happening, that’s where the confidence comes from.

“It’s when it goes quiet (that you get concerned), and it’s certainly not like that – the dialogue’s still there.”

Hanners’ sacrifice for Saints

Dan Hannebery is keen to play on next year after self-funding a trip to Germany and taking a pay cut worth hundreds of thousands of dollars this season.

Hannebery returned to the St Kilda side for the first time this year after a torrid battle with injury that has included April calf surgery and a trip to renowned soft tissue expert Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt.

The 31-year-old has played only 16 AFL games at St Kilda on a four-year deal with a trigger for a fifth season worth over $700,000 a season.

But entering this year he took the massive pay cut to help ease the cap squeeze as he entered the last year of his deal.

As he searched for answers to remedy his injury issues he also paid for the Germany trip and treatment, believed to have cost over $10,000.

Dan Hannebery gives the thumbs up after a job well done. Picture: Getty Images
Dan Hannebery gives the thumbs up after a job well done. Picture: Getty Images

St Kilda has not made a decision about keeping him on but he again showed his issue is staying on the park rather than his output with a polished 27-possession, one-goal performance against Hawthorn.

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At worst he might have to prove he can get through a summer of training and then push for a vacant summer rookie spot.

The next three weeks and any potential finals action will have a strong bearing on his future with St Kilda also keen to bring in ready-made midfielders.

Hannebery made a fine return against the Hawks. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Hannebery made a fine return against the Hawks. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

The club is interested in Collingwood’s Jordan De Goey but says it has not met him or gained board approval, and could make a bid for one of the trio of GWS midfielders likely to head back to Melbourne.

Hannebery told Fox Footy after the win he knew how close he was to retirement given his continual soft-tissue problems.

“A few times this year I thought it was not far from being all over,” he said.

“I was super confident of a few things we needed to change up, and certainly the trip to Germany has worked wonders, I feel really good since that.

“It’s a week-by-week thing and (I’m) certainly very happy and grateful to even get the opportunity to play another game. I love the game and it’s an amazing opportunity to get to play again.”

Don’t rule out this Vic club nabbing De Goey

Rival clubs believe Collingwood bad boy Jordan De Goey’s days in black and white are numbered, with a move elsewhere at season’s end considered as good as certain.

It’s been a tumultuous past 12 months, even by De Goey’s standards, and his mid-season Bali escapades may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Geelong has been heavily linked to the restricted free agent but is also weighing up moves for Giants Tanner Bruhn and Jacob Hopper, who boarded at St Patrick’s College in Ballarat.

That has some installing St Kilda as the favourite to win De Goey’s services – but don’t rule out Richmond making a play for the midfielder-forward.

The Cats and Saints are most commonly mentioned in dispatches about the in-demand Pie but there have been industry murmurs about the Tigers for a little while.

Could Jordan De Goey become a Tiger? Picture: Albert Perez/Getty Images
Could Jordan De Goey become a Tiger? Picture: Albert Perez/Getty Images

They are in the market for an on-baller, with Hopper and GWS teammate Tim Taranto also understood to be in their sights if they choose to leave.

The initial thinking was Richmond’s interest in De Goey was because it feared Dustin Martin was leaving, but the belief now is that Damien Hardwick’s team can fit both stars in.

Triple premiership midfielder Kane Lambert retired this week, while it’s unclear whether Shane Edwards, who will play his 300th game this weekend, will continue in 2023.

How free agents may land at new clubs

Collingwood believes Dan McStay’s selfless team-first role will prove invaluable support as a marking target as it invests $3 million in a player who only averages a goal a game.

The free agency market is hotting up early with Power wingman Karl Amon now almost certainly Hawthorn-bound on a four or five-year deal worth $650,000 per season.

Port Adelaide have made clear they cannot hope to match that offer, which will see Amon take up his free agency rights with the Hawks on a deal that could secure the Power end-of-first-round compensation.

St Kilda was also an early contender but the Power believe Amon, a member of the All Australian 40 last year, will play under Sam Mitchell next year.

The Pies have committed to free agent McStay and will not waver despite a quiet patch that has seen him kick only two goals in the past five weeks for the Lions.

Daniel McStay is on his way to Collingwood. Picture: Getty Images
Daniel McStay is on his way to Collingwood. Picture: Getty Images

He will find his way to the Pies on a five-year $600,000-per-season deal with clubs aware they have to pay a premium for free agents given they do not have to hand over a draft selection.

For the Pies, McStay’s free agency acquisition might cancel out any compensation they receive if Jordan De Goey departs the club.

Pies chief executive Mark Anderson said this week the club was a better team with De Goey in it but said any discussions would wait until the end of the season.

But while fans might wonder why the club would let go of De Goey to secure McStay, the Lions forward will come much cheaper and balances out the Pies’ list needs.

Brody Mihocek has provided brilliant service but turns 30 in February, with McStay’s arrival to help secure better match-ups for the likes of Jamie Elliott, Ollie Henry and Beau McCreery.

At Brisbane he secured coaches votes against GWS two weeks ago for the kind of two-goal, 11-score assist game that often goes under the radar given the Lions’ array of talent.

The fact remains that McStay’s biggest goal tally in any given year is 28 with 22.18 in 2018, 21.16 in 2019 and 16.10 from 15 games this year.

Karl Amon is set to join the Hawks. Picture: Getty Images
Karl Amon is set to join the Hawks. Picture: Getty Images

The Lions’ five-year offer for McStay, 27, reflected how they value his importance in the front six.

Clubs are aware Brodie Grundy could be on the market but he is keen to stay and a strong finish to the year would likely cement his spot on the list.

The Pies are open to discussions at the end of the year about what a trade could look like as they attempt to secure Bobby Hill and midfielders including Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper.

Hopper wants to move to Melbourne but the ball is in the court of GWS given he is contracted so he would need to be released in a trade that helps both parties.

Clubs making calls on Kozzy

Port Adelaide and West Australian-based clubs are coming hard for brilliant Melbourne forward Kysaiah Pickett, who still has a year to run on his contract.

But Melbourne’s secret weapon to retain the housemate of Luke Jackson is especially quirky.

Pickett considers his true home outback Western Australia after being raised by aunty Rebecca in wheatbelt town Quairading.

He moved to Adelaide suburb Birkenhead to be with uncle Byron Pickett as he finished his football education – hence the Power link – but while clubs in both those states have made concerted bids, he doesn’t really consider himself a Perth or Adelaide boy.

Pickett loves playing at Melbourne and while he doesn’t especially love the big-city lifestyle, he has a girlfriend in Victoria and it is as much a home as any big city across Australia.

His contract runs through to 2023 and while clubs like the Power will keep trying there isn’t anywhere near as much of a go-home factor as there is for Jackson.

The Demons will be confident that by mid-2023 they can secure him on a long-term deal after locking in Angus Brayshaw for six years this week.

Which stars are on the move, staying put, or hanging the boots up?
Which stars are on the move, staying put, or hanging the boots up?

Cotchin’s plan to play on

Triple premiership Tiger hero Trent Cotchin is likely to play into a 16th season if he can finish the year full of running.

Cotchin entered the year having given up the captaincy after a 17-game 2021 season that had given rise to speculation this could be the swan song.

Richmond is aware it needs to keep transitioning its list but has already lost Josh Caddy, Kane Lambert, Matt Parker and could see 300-gamer Shane Edwards retire after a decorated career.

Cotchin has averaged 21 possessions and 4.9 clearances and crucially has found a way to manage his dodgy hamstrings despite missing three games with a broken collarbone.

With the obligations of captaincy lifted he has a nice routine _ into the club during the week, does his work, then gets back to family life with little fuss or extra responsibilities.

With 282 games on the clock he also has the lure of the potential 300-game milestone next year.

Jack Riewoldt is also expected to go on given he has been the sole constant in a forward line with Noah Balta and Tom Lynch repeatedly battling hamstring issues.

Speculation swirls about Dustin Martin’s future but his teammates genuinely have no idea, given he says little about his future plans and they won’t ask him.

If Dyson Heppell wants a deal longer than one season, he’ll have to move clubs to get it. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
If Dyson Heppell wants a deal longer than one season, he’ll have to move clubs to get it. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

Dons steadfast on one year for Heppell

Essendon captain Dyson Heppell will likely have to move to a club like North Melbourne keen for leadership if he wants a two-year deal.

The Dons have offered him a one-year contract but are adamant they are respectful of their captain as negotiations continue on the financial aspect of that offer.

It seems unlikely they will hand him two seasons given he has hit 30, but the Dons are adamant they haven’t lowballed Heppell despite him being handed a pay cut off his career-high finances in their opening offer.

If he is determined to secure a two-year deal he will have suitors given his brilliant leadership yet he is at the same stage as players like Taylor Walker, who play on one-year deals.

Heppell has averaged 22 possessions this year _ above average for possessions and intercept marks _ but he is average for metres gained, one-on-one marking and kicking.

It’s been revealed Gary Rohan is contracted through the end of next year. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
It’s been revealed Gary Rohan is contracted through the end of next year. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

Full details of Rohan deal revealed

Gary Rohan will enter the finals series desperate for an impact this year but with the comfort of a contract for 2023.

Geelong announced he had signed a contract last year after a lively 32-goal season that ended in another dismal finals performance, subbed off with injury after only one touch against Melbourne.

But it in a week where he announced engagement to partner Madi Bennett after a high-profile break-up with his wife Amie, it can be revealed that deal was actually a two-season deal through to the end of 2023.

Only a cynic would suggest the Cats didn’t reveal the longer-term nature of his deal because of the below-par finals performance.

Baker surplus to Dees’ needs

One Melbourne player who is expected to be up for grabs is speedster Oskar Baker.

James Jordon’s emergence in the past two years, with Ed Langdon continuing to star on the opposite wing, has meant limited opportunities for Baker.

The 24-year-old has played only 15 senior games in five years on the Demons’ list – none of them this year – but is enjoying his best VFL season, averaging 22 disposals, four inside 50s and five score involvements.

Oskar Baker hasn’t been able to break into the Dees best team this season. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Oskar Baker hasn’t been able to break into the Dees best team this season. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Baker, whose contract expires this year, fits into the age bracket North Melbourne plans to target this off-season but Melbourne would be keen to retain him for depth reasons.

The Dees drafted him with the No.48 pick in the 2017 draft from NEAFL club Aspley.

Will Dockers come to party for Acres?

Blake Acres won’t be able to stay at Fremantle under his current offer, which has seen him asked to accept a significant pay cut.

Acres is ranked elite for contested ball, clearances and metres gained this year in the most productive season of his career at the age of only 26.

The former Saint was initially offered a mediocre one-year deal which has since been raised to two seasons as the Dockers clear cap space for Luke Jackson.

Rivals are interested but Acres isn’t a free agent, so they would have to trade for the former West Perth junior.

The Dockers missed out on Angus Brayshaw this week, so might consider raising their offer to keep Acres but if not the offers will come for the hard-running midfielder.

He is keen to remain at the club, given its bright future after moving back west only three seasons ago.

Dons a good fit for Gunston?

Hawthorn free agent Jack Gunston has attracted interest from rival clubs following his strong recovery from a debilitating back problem.

Gunston, 30, was best-on for Hawthorn on Saturday, destroying North Melbourne with a five-goal haul in Hobart in his return to the team.

The veteran goal kicker has recently taken time away to mourn the death of his father, Ray, who was a popular and highly-respected AFL administrator.

Jack Gunston kissed his armband and pointed to the sky after slotting his first major on Saturday, and enjoyed a day out against the Kangaroos, dominating with his forward craft and hard running.

Jack Gunston had a day out against the Roos. Picture: Getty Images
Jack Gunston had a day out against the Roos. Picture: Getty Images

Rivals believe the premiership forward could have as many as three years left in him despite a debilitating back problem, which restricted him to only one game last season.

Trade sources believe Essendon could be the best fit as Gunston would help bolster the forward stocks and provide a mentor for gun youngster Harry Jones.

The Bombers have salary cap space to add some mature-age talent but do not want to off-load any of their top draft picks. They have also been linked to star Sun Izak Rankine.

Collingwood flagged strong interest in Gunston two years ago, but dropped the idea after the Hawks indicated they would want a first-round draft pick in return for the goal kicker.

Hawthorn has shown it is open to talks about their veteran players after failing to strike a deal for any of their senior core including Luke Breust, Chad Wingard and Liam Shiels last season.

But the Hawks may be reluctant to lose Gunston given his leadership, off-field influence, popularity and versatility to play either back or forward roles for Sam Mitchell.

Gunston is a free agent, meaning the Hawks could receive a late compensation pick for his departure, depending on the length and size of his contract offer.

Gunston started his career at Adelaide and has kicked 418 goals over a glittering 221-game career.

Target on unheralded Suns

Clubs have begun making inquiries about a pair of Gold Coast Suns’ playmakers in the hope of securing another Will Brodie-style bargain.

Sam Flanders and Brayden Fiorini have both attracted interest and could try and seek fresh opportunities elsewhere despite having deals to run next season.

Flanders, who was taken with pick No. 11 in 2019, has averaged 10 possessions across his seven games this season after breaking through for 16 matches last season.

There are hopes Flanders, 21, could flourish in a full-time midfield role but there remains some conjecture over the Gippsland product’s best position alongside Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson and Touk Miller.

Likewise ex-Northern Knight Fiorini, 24, is also expected to emerge as a trade target for clubs after playing 76 games in seven seasons up north, including 14 this year.

Fremantle secured one of the best-value deals last year when they nabbed Brodie and pick 19 from the Suns as part of a Gold Coast salary dump.

While both Flanders and Fiorini are contracted to Gold Coast until the end of next season, it is likely the players will have an open mind about their futures if offers emerge.

The duo are happy to stay at Gold Coast as the Suns push for a historic first finals campaign.

Where will Luke Jackson play next year? Picture: Mark Stewart
Where will Luke Jackson play next year? Picture: Mark Stewart

Alarm bells: What Brayshaw deal means for star big man

—Jay Clark

Melbourne premiership big man Luke Jackson is set for an awkward showdown against the Fremantle ruckman he could try to replace in the Dockers’ No. 1 ruck spot next season.

Jackson, 20, is weighing up a blockbuster offer to join Fremantle, and will on Friday night step into the spotlight when he faces off against Dockers’ gun big man Sean Darcy at Optus Stadium.

The Demons are desperate to keep Jackson but are becoming more pessimistic about their chances after signing gun midfielder Angus Brayshaw to a whopping six-year extension on Thursday.

The Demons have locked away all of their superstar midfielders on long-term deals including Clayton Oliver (2030), Christian Petracca (2029) and Brayshaw (2028).

The 199cm Jackson is certain to receive a bumper offer from Fremantle worth an estimated $800,000-$900,000 a season over at least six years to head home to Western Australia.

The rich deal would make Jackson one of the game’s highest-paid players in his fourth season.

However, money is unlikely to be the key factor in his decision as the East Fremantle product considers going home to be closer to family in WA.

Melbourne is unlikely to have the cap space to match the Dockers’ money without considerable upheaval.

Rival clubs are aware the Demons’ cap is under pressure and expect the club to lose some mid-tier players if they are able to keep Jackson after signing Oliver and Petracca on $1 million-a-year contracts.

West Coast is also chasing Jackson as the heir to Nic Naitanui’s ruck throne, but the Dockers are considered the frontrunner.

The Demons would almost certainly demand two first-round picks in any trade for the third-year star who was outstanding in Melbourne’s demolition job on Western Bulldogs in last year’s Grand Final.

But his form has wavered in the second half of the season with Jackson polling AFL coaches votes in two games this season (in Rounds 2 and 15) – for a total of seven votes for the season.

He is ranked 10th at the club for coaches votes behind leaders Oliver (86), Petracca (75) and Max Gawn (40).

The Dockers believe Jackson’s extraordinary versatility to play key forward, midfield and ruck would be the perfect support for Darcy next year as they chase an inaugural flag.

Angus Brayshaw at Demons training this week. Picture: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images
Angus Brayshaw at Demons training this week. Picture: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

The former Australian basketballer is considered one of the most versatile players in the game with Melbourne recruiting boss Jason Taylor adamant he could become the best ruckman in the league for a decade when the Demons took him at pick three.

But Jackson’s form has dropped off slightly in recent weeks after gathering 11 possessions and 11 hit-outs in the loss to Western Bulldogs on Saturday night against Tim English.

It is unclear what toll the contract decision is having on Jackson with Geelong superstar Jeremy Cameron saying he struggled to sleep and was stressed out considering whether to leave GWS Giants.

Darcy will be eager to stamp his authority as one of the league’s most dominant ruckmen when he takes on Jackson in the marquee battle on Friday night.

According to Campion Data, Darcy ranks elite for score involvements and above average for disposals, contested possessions, hit-outs to advantage and clearances.

Darcy, who will be a top free agent when he comes out of contract in 2024, is the equal-fourth highest-rated ruckman in the game for average rankings points (103) behind Max Gawn (113), Tim English (112), Jarrod Witts (111) and even with Reilly O’Brien (103).

Brayshaw signs whopping extension to stay at Dees

Angus Brayshaw has signed a whopping six-year contract extension to round out his career at Melbourne.

The Demons have confirmed Brayshaw will remain in red and blue until the end of 2028.

Brayshaw, who was a free agent, turned his back on interest from Essendon and Fremantle to recommit at Melbourne.

But sources have told News Corp Brayshaw’s loyalty to Melbourne was always likely to be a key factor in his decision.

He joins Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca in signing a long-term deal at Melbourne, as the club waits anxiously for an answer from Luke Jackson.

Jackson is weighing up strong interest to return home to Western Australia amid huge interest from the Dockers.

Angus Brayshaw is staying at Melbourne. Picture: Getty Images
Angus Brayshaw is staying at Melbourne. Picture: Getty Images

Melbourne is under salary cap pressure after the trio of extensions meaning the club may not be able to match the Dockers’ financial offer for Jackson.

The 137-gamer, who was taken with pick three, has enormous flexibility to play inside and outside midfield roles.

List manager Tim Lamb said it was a massive result for the club.

“Angus is a leader of our club and to have him commit long term is a brilliant result. His talent is obvious to all and his willingness to put the team first and play whatever role we need him to is a testament to his character, ” Lamb told Melbourne Media.

“This signing is another great endorsement for the culture we have created and we know Angus will continue to drive standards within the group.

“The versatility he has displayed across his career makes him an enormous asset to our club. The great thing is Angus still has enormous growth in his game and we are excited about what he will produce in the future.

“This deal means another key pillar of our playing group will play out his career with us which is an important part of our strategy going forward. The example that our leaders have set in committing to stay together to try to achieve something special should give our members and supporters great confidence in the direction we are taking.”

What happened when Jones met Dogs?

—Rebecca Williams

Western Bulldogs football boss Chris Grant has described his meeting with Liam Jones as a mutual investigation, declaring the former Blue to be in “pretty good nick” as he eyes a return to the AFL.

As reported by the Herald Sun last week, Jones sat down with Bulldogs’ officials, including list manager Sam Power, at Grant’s Williamstown home.

The meeting heightened the prospect of a homecoming for the 31-year-old, who played 66 games with the Bulldogs at the start of his career before his move to Carlton.

Jones has been in talks with a number of clubs after the AFL recently cleared the way for the vaccine-hesitant defender to play next year.

Grant said the meeting with Jones was an “exploration” for both parties, but left confident the backman wanted to make a return to the AFL.

“I’ve got to be open and honest … we obviously caught up with Jonesy,” Grant said on RSN.

“You think ‘Let’s do it nice and private, a nice cup of tea together, a nice cup of coffee’ and then two hours later, it’s been tweeted.

Liam Jones is set to return to the AFL next season. Picture: Getty Images
Liam Jones is set to return to the AFL next season. Picture: Getty Images

“I think it was a bit of an investigation for the both of us really, I know he has met with some other teams as well.

“He, I think, really feels that he would like to come back to AFL footy. The AFL are still to confirm for him and his player manager Shane Casley what the mechanism for that will be.

“So it was pretty much an exploration meeting for us both. For him to find out what is going on around our club and for us to find out about him and how his body is.”

Jones walked away from Carlton after 95 games in seven seasons last November due to the league’s vaccine mandate.

He has been playing for Palm Beach Currumbin in the QAFL.

Grant said Jones remained in good shape.

“He has been playing footy, he is the first to admit that it is not at the level of AFL or the conditioning requirements of AFL in playing up on the Gold Coast, but he is still in pretty good nick,” Grant said.

“I guess over the next month or so, the AFL will confirm for him (the mechanism for him to return) and we’ll just wait and see what that means for us.”

Originally published as AFL trade news: Stay up to date with the latest contract, free agent and player movement buzz

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