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Free agents: Who will go and who will stay? 

Shaun Higgins of the Bulldogs in action during the 2014 AFL Round 11 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Fremantle Dockers at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne on June 01, 2014. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Shaun Higgins is one of two restricted free agents this year
FIFTY-SEVEN free agents appeared on the AFL's official list when it was released in March, but re-signings and retirements have since whittled that number down to 29.
 
Of those 29 players, just two are restricted free agents (David Mackay and Shaun Higgins), with this year's seven other restricted free agents having already re-signed with their clubs.
 
So is this year's free agency crop going to be a fizzer or could there still be a big-name deal to rival Lance Franklin's move to the Sydney Swans at the end of last season or Brendon Goddard's move to Essendon in the inaugural year of free agency?
 
Here, AFL.com.au casts an eye over every remaining 2014 free agent and predicts where they're likely to be next season.
 

SET TO LEAVE

James Frawley, Melbourne
Likely to leave Melbourne in pursuit of greater on-field success, with a growing number of clubs clamouring for his services. Hawthorn and Geelong still seem to be leading the Frawley race, but Collingwood and the Sydney Swans have been strongly linked to the Demon in recent weeks. However, industry sources suggest the Magpies don't have the salary cap space to make a serious play for Frawley, who turns 26 in September. Fremantle also remains an outside chance to lure the Demon to Western Australia. As keen as the key-position player's suitors are, he won't get a seven-year contract or the $800,000 a season he was reportedly seeking. But Frawley will be offered a long-term contract worth about $650,000 a season to move football homes, which should guarantee the Demons a first-round compensation pick.
 

UP IN THE AIR

Shaun Higgins (restricted), Western Bulldogs
Higgins has put contract talks with the Bulldogs on hold until the end of this season, but his manager Bruce Kaider says the defender remains committed to negotiating with the Dogs before entertaining opposition interest. Make no mistake, there is rival interest in Higgins, with at least four other clubs having already put their hats in the ring. Higgins' decision might come down to the length of his new contract rather than remuneration. We understand the Bulldogs have offered Higgins a two-year deal, but he would prefer a longer contract. Rival suitors will be mindful Higgins, 26, has had his share of injuries over his career, but might be prepared to make a long-term commitment given his class. The defender's recent demotion to the VFL will have no bearing on his decision, but he is no more than a 50/50 chance to stay at the Whitten Oval.

Nick Malceski, Sydney Swans
Veteran free agents at premiership contenders like the Sydney Swans generally either re-sign or retire. Certainly, that was the position Malceski seemed to be in when this year's free agency list was released in March. Malceski, who turns 30 next month, has dispelled any retirement talk with a stellar 2014 season that has him in All Australian contention. But he deviated from script this week when his manager Ben Niall announced contract talks with the Swans had been put off until the end of the season. While stressing Malceski was not disgruntled with the Swans and could yet re-sign, Niall also confirmed he had held talks with West Coast and Fremantle (Malceski's wife is from Western Australia) and some Melbourne clubs. However, Niall said he had not received any offer from Melbourne, where Malceski's former Swans coach Paul Roos is now in charge. What do we read into all this? Is Malceski merely holding out for a better deal from the Swans, knowing how much recent star recruits Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett are being paid? Or is he genuinely considering a fresh start? For ours, it's too early to make a definitive call.
 
Jarrad Waite, Carlton
If Waite's dominant performance against North Melbourne told us anything it's that he will play on in 2015. The question is whether that will be at Carlton or a new club. At times this year, Waite has appeared on the outer at Visy Park as Lachie Henderson and Levi Casboult have assumed more responsibility on the Blues' forward line. Given their shortage of key-position players, the Blues are unlikely to cast Waite aside, but any new contract offer will be significantly less than the $500,000 a season he is reportedly earning now. If Waite decides to leave, he will not be short on options even though he turns 32 next February. Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs are routinely linked with any 'gettable' key forwards, but we expect any genuine rival plays for the Blue will come closer to October's free agency period.
 
Jarrad Waite looks set to extend his career away from Carlton next year. Picture: AFL Media


Tyson Goldsack, Collingwood
The tall utility and the Magpies remain some way apart in their contract discussions, both on remuneration and the length of the new offer. Goldsack's flexibility will appeal to some rival clubs, but we expect the 27-year-old and the Pies will agree to terms before he seriously considers leaving the Westpac Centre.
 
Ryan O'Keefe, Sydney Swans
The 2012 Norm Smith medallist's last senior game was in round four and his time at the Swans appears to be up. O'Keefe turns 34 next January and looks to have lost a yard of speed this season, but he is a class act and it would not surprise to see a young team like Melbourne tempt the Victorian with a one-year deal to play on.
 
Leroy Jetta, Essendon
On the outer at Essendon for most of the past two seasons, Jetta, 26, is unlikely to be offered a new contract by the Bombers. If delisted, he could appeal to rival clubs in the market for a small forward, but might not receive offers until November's delisted free agency period.
 

SET TO RE-SIGN

David Mackay (restricted), Adelaide
The midfielder has toyed with returning to Victoria and had suitors in his home state, but now seems set to stay with Adelaide. Mackay, who turned 26 on Friday, is edging closer to sealing a contract extension with the Crows.
 
Jarryn Geary, St Kilda
At 26, Geary is among the Saints' group of emerging leaders, a fact that was recognised with his elevation to the Saints' leadership group this season. A recent report linked him with Geelong, but we understand he is close to finalising a new deal to remain at Seaford.
 
James Gwilt, St Kilda
Gwilt, who turns 28 next month, gives the youthful Saints team some much-needed experience in defence. In the middle of contract talks with St Kilda and almost certain to stay at Seaford.
 
Jason Winderlich, Essendon
The speedy utility continues to be a valuable player for the Bombers when fit and has been a revelation in a new role across half-back in 2014. Turns 30 in October, but close to re-signing with the Bombers.

One of Essendon's favourites looks set to stay at the club next year. Picture: AFL Media 


Paul Stewart, Port Adelaide
Has struggled with calf and knee injuries this year and played just three games. But has just turned 27, can play in attack and defence, and is tall (191cm) and mobile. Likely to play on at Port.
 
Sam Butler, West Coast
With Dean Cox and Darren Glass retiring this year, the experienced Butler looks set to play on. A composed ball-user in the Eagles' backline, Butler turns 29 next January.
 
Dale Morris, Western Bulldogs
Morris' manager, Scott Lucas, told AFL.com.au earlier this month the 31-year-old defender is close to re-signing with the Bulldogs for 2015.
 

STAY PUT OR RETIRE

These players' futures are unlikely to be decided until the end of this season. Highly unlikely to switch clubs, each of these veterans seems set to either play on for one more season or retire.
 
Adam Goodes, Sydney Swans
Still dangerous at 34, the two-time Brownlow medallist is likely to play on in 2015, especially when the Swans' premiership window remains wide open.
 
Luke McPharlin, Fremantle
Remains a key player for the Dockers and both parties will be keen for him to play on in 2015 alongside fellow star veterans Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands while Freo remains a premiership contender. Turns 33 in December and his decision will come down to one question – can his body stand up to another AFL season?
 
Brad Sewell, Hawthorn
The veteran midfielder has endured an injury-plagued year this season, but he reminded people of his elite inside ball-winning powers with outstanding games against Carlton and Collingwood in rounds 13 and 14. The Hawks' desire to blood their next generation of midfielders will be a factor in whether the 30-year-old plays on in 2015.
 
Corey Enright, Geelong
The three-time premiership star is yet to make a decision on his football future, but will probably start those deliberations in earnest in a few weeks. Turns 33 in September and is still playing well enough to play on. But our gut feel tells us he will hang up his boots.
 
The star Cat will make a decision on his future at the end of the year. Picture: AFL Media


Dustin Fletcher, Essendon
Lineball to extend his career into a record 23rd AFL season, but the 39-year-old's cause will be helped by fellow defender Tayte Pears' continuing struggle with injury and form this season.
 
Matthew Boyd, Western Bulldogs
The 31-year-old remains a ball magnet (averaging 27.5 possessions a game in 2014) and is understood to be keen to play on next season. But the Bulldogs might decide the time is right to give more responsibility to their emerging group of young midfielders.
 
Chris Newman, Richmond
Has missed six weeks with injury this season, but the defender said he hoped his 32-year-old body would allow him to play on next season. The Tigers' disappointing 2014 season could also work against Newman's hopes of continuing.
 
Michael Firrito, North Melbourne
Has been outstanding since earning a senior recall in round four, but the 30-year-old defender's chances of playing on will be shaped by his finish to the season.
 
Sam Fisher, St Kilda
The 32-year-old defender has reminded footy fans he still has good football left in him over the past two rounds, having finally shrugged off the litany of injuries that have dogged him in 2014. Understood to be keen to play on in 2015, so the ball appears to be in the rebuilding Saints' court.
 
Clint Jones, St Kilda
Another veteran Saint who wants to play on in 2015, the 30-year-old tagger might have been superseded by young run-with midfielders Maverick Weller and Tom Curren.
 
Ash McGrath, Brisbane Lions
Said in May he was keen to play on, but the 31-year-old needs a strong finish to the season after his start to the year was delayed until round 15 by a calf injury.

Lewis Roberts-Thomson, Sydney Swans
Played five of the Swans' first six games this season,  but has since been stuck in the NEAFL with Swans' reserves team. Still just 30, but the Swans' key-position depth will probably count against him being offered a contract for 2015.
 
Tom Logan, Port Adelaide
Logan turned 29 earlier this month and has spent all bar two games out of the Power's senior team in 2014. But the courageous utility is a valued clubman and a readymade senior player who gives Port depth. Could earn another one-year contract.
 
Daniel Giansiracusa, Western Bulldogs
Has again excelled in the substitute's green vest this season, but has long harboured ambitions to coach and will start that next stage of his football career in 2015.
 
Jason Porplyzia, Adelaide
The small forward has been restricted to four games this season through a mix of injuries, Eddie Betts' seamless transition into the Crows' line-up and Charlie Cameron's emergence. Likely to retire.
 
Twitter: @AFL_Nick