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Trade wrap: Rivals set to swoop on Smith

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Devon Smith has nominated Essendon as his trade destination - AFL,Trade,Devon Smith,GWS Giants,Essendon Bombers,Jake Stringer,Western Bulldogs,Port Adelaide Power,Tom Rockliff,North Melbourne Kangaroos,Jack Watts,Melbourne Demons,Jake Lever,Adelaide Crows
Devon Smith has nominated Essendon as his trade destination

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Smith back in play 

Essendon risks losing its grip on Devon Smith as it juggles three difficult trades, with rival clubs believing they are still the race for the 24-year-old. 

Essendon is trying to land Jake StringerAdam Saad and Smith before next Thursday's 2pm AEDT deadline, with its pick No.11 the centerpiece of negotiations.  

But the Bombers baulked at an offer to trade their pick No.11 for Smith and the Giants' pick No.23.  

They have offered to trade pick No.11 for Saad and Gold Coast's pick No.19, but that was rejected by the Suns. The Bulldogs want pick No.11 in a straight swap for Stringer.

With the Giants, Gold Coast and Western Bulldogs all keen to get their hands on the Bombers' pick No.11, rivals are sensing an opportunity to swoop on Smith.  

Who could make a play for Smith? 

St Kilda met with Smith before he nominated Essendon as his preferred home nearly a week ago and remains interested in the half-forward. Carlton and Collingwood were also suitors.  

Clubs believe he is worth a late first-round or early second-round selection.

Cats unlikely to land Watts

A deal sending Jack Watts to Port Adelaide could take shape quickly after Geelong indicated it was unlikely to be able to do a deal to land the Melbourne forward.

Watts is yet to indicate his preferred club, but the Power have made him their priority and the Demons would be satisfied with pick No.29 in exchange for the 26-year-old.  

After hosting Watts at Simonds Stadium on Tuesday, the Cats declared they had not put an offer to the versatile forward because they didn't want to commit unless they knew a deal could be struck. 

List manager Stephen Wells told NAB AFL Trade Radio: "We've had a good conversation with Melbourne and they've made it clear what they'd be expecting from us, and at this stage we don't think we'd be able to do a deal."

The Cats are waiting on two things:

  • Compensation for free agent Steven Motlop, which could land at the end of the first round or in the second round
  • Confirmation that Stringer will be traded to Essendon 

A deal sending Stringer to Essendon is yet to take shape as the Bombers negotiate deals involving Saad and Smith

If the Stringer talks fall down, Geelong would remain an option for the Bulldogs forward. It is unlikely they'd be able to land both Stringer and Watts and therefore can't commit to Watts. 

The Cats have indicated they are unwilling to trade their pick No.20 for Watts, but it is likely they would for Stringer.  

None of these complications exist at Port Adelaide, which would be expected to act quickly if Watts wished to join Ken Hinkley's team.

Melbourne has said it would hold onto Watts if a deal couldn't be struck, but it is understood it would be satisfied with Port's pick No.29

Has Watts played his last game in red and blue? Picture: AFL Photos

What about Lever?  

Talks between the Dees and Adelaide on Jake Lever have moved quickly this week and been positive, despite the controversy surrounding the defender's trade request. 

There is hope the deal can be ticked off in the next two or three days, with the Demons sending two first-round picks to the Crows (pick No.10 this year and next year's first-round selection).

The mooted deal would see Adelaide send a late first-round or early second-round pick back to the Demons.  

Wantaway Crow Lever wants to become a Demon. Picture: AFL Photos

North refusing to jump at shadows 

North Melbourne has been conspicuously quiet since missing out on star targets Dustin Martin and Josh Kelly; three days into the Trade Period, the only player the Roos have been linked to is out-of-contract Geelong midfielder Darcy Lang.

The Kangaroos clearly have plenty of space in their salary cap to chase other opposition stars. But they have not been among the serious suitors for Tom RockliffMotlop, Stringer and Smith, prompting some commentators to question their inactivity. 

What can we expect from North for the remainder of Trade Period?

Probably not much. North football chief Cameron Joyce told NMFC On Air on Wednesday the club's main recruitment focus would be November's NAB AFL Draft, where it will take its earliest pick, No.4 overall, since 2006. 

North would like to improve its draft hand if it can this period. But list manager Michael McMahon says it will most likely look to climb the draft order through pick swaps, rather than trying to bring in extra picks by trading players. 

North's response to its critics

Joyce said players such as Rockliff and Motlop would have made North's list better in the short term, but at 27 and 26 years of age respectively did not fit the Roos' long-term plans.  

"We want to be really targeted in what we do. We don't want to just get a player for the sake of having some money and to say we got a player through this period," Joyce said. 

"We're happy if we don't find what we need to just take our draft picks, bank our money and sort of reload again." 

But wait, there could be more …

Joyce says North has spoken to other opposition midfielders the media has yet to identify. Could the Roos pull off a late surprise?

The Roos have been linked with Cat Lang. Picture: AFL Photos 

What you also need to know 

  • A trade sending Josh Schache to a Victorian club is yet to take shape and there is an expectation any move will be on hold until other trades start to drop. Strong suitors are yet to come forward for the 2015 No.2 draft pick. 
  • Rockliff officially became a Port Adelaide player on Wednesday, with the Brisbane Lions declining to match the Power's offer, believed to be worth about $650,000 a season over four years. The Lions will receive pick No.18 in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft as compensation.
  • There is interest in former Fremantle ruckman Zac Clarke, with up to five clubs understood to be considering the athletic ruckman as a delisted free agent. Clarke's manager Jason Dover, of Stride Sports, said one club he had spoken to was looking at the 27-year-old as their No.1 ruckman.  
  • Geelong list manager Stephen Wells told NAB AFL Trade Radio Mitch Duncan, Nakia Cockatoo and Jake Kolodjashnij had been ruled off limits in any trade for former Gold Coast captain Gary Ablett. It's understood Gold Coast and Geelong parked their talks for a day on Wednesday.
  • North Melbourne list manager Michael McMahon confirmed the club's interest in uncontracted Cats midfielder Lang. "We've had some conversations with Darcy and his management. There's still a bit to work through there throughout the trade period, but that's ongoing." Lang has also been linked to Carlton and Gold Coast via the proposed Ablett trade.
  • Contracted Crows forward Charlie Cameron is no closer to his desired move to the Brisbane Lions, with talks between Adelaide and the Lions still at a stalemate.

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