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Carlton eyes free agents after Judd's pay cut

Jennifer Phelan  June 1, 2013 3:16 PM

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Star Magpie Dale Thomas is out of contract at the end of the year

Yeah, I think we could get someone of that dollar value
CHRIS Judd's pay cut on his 2014 contract has allowed Carlton the breathing space to target a player such as Collingwood's Dale Thomas in the free agency period, says club CEO Greg Swann. 

Judd, 29, signed a one-year extension last month with what Swann described as a "really, really substantial pay cut" to what his last deal was worth. 

While Swann said the extra money in the salary cap wasn't enough to try to lure a player like Hawthorn's Lance Franklin, it potentially could see Carlton afford the services of someone like Thomas – a player he and coach Mick Malthouse have an existing relationship with. 

"Yeah, we could get one or two," Swann said, when asked on SEN Radio on Saturday if the Blues were in a position to go after a player via free agency. 

"[But] not Buddy."

He was then asked if Thomas would be in the bracket of players they could look at, and responded, "Yeah, I think we could get someone of that dollar value."

"One of the advantages with Chris re-signing - which we didn't make a big deal out of - but he took a substantial a really, really substantial pay cut, which has obviously freed up a lot of salary cap space," he said. 

Thomas is known to be close to Malthouse, who coached him for six years at Collingwood, and he lived with Swann for a period when the Carlton CEO held the same role at the Magpies. 

Swann said he hadn't spoken to Thomas lately and that the soon-to-be out-of-contract midfielder had just as significant relationships at his current club.   

"I went through all this last year with Travis Cloke. He was a certainty to come to Carlton and he was coming and coming …" Swann said. 

"It's hard to get them out of Collingwood and I think people like to tell that story and you've said that he's close to Mick and maybe he's close to myself but he's a lot closer to Heath Shaw and Dane Swan and all those guys."

Recently, Collingwood director of football Geoff Walsh rejected any link between Thomas' ankle injury – which is likely to see him sidelined for most, if not all, of the season - to contract negotiations. 

But leading sports medico Dr Peter Larkins warned there were no guarantees that Thomas would return to his best after the surgery. 

"There's no 100 percent recovery from these operations, there's just good recovery," Larkins told AFL.com.au last month. 

"When we start talking about cartilage or tendons around the ankle then that can be chronic scarring, it can be soreness and weakness that lingers on and these players play with ankle strapping and they get treatment for the rest of their career.

"Daisy's got a real challenge in front of him. I know he'll play footy next year, I've got no doubt in my mind.

"(But) whether it's the old Daisy or whether it's going to be an adapted Daisy I don't know.

"And that's why clubs that are looking at him will certainly want to take that on board when they consider that." 

Jennifer Phelan is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow her on Twitter @AFL_JenPhelan.