Every Thursday AFL.com.au presents Inside Trading, with breaking news and the best analysis of the player movement landscape covering contracts, trades, free agents, the NAB AFL Draft and industry insights.
CONTRACTED CAT IN DOCKERS' SIGHTS
FREMANTLE is set to ramp up its pursuit to lure speedster Jordan Clark out of Geelong this year as he continues to remain on the outer at the premiership contenders.
The Dockers explored the possibility of a trade for Clark last year before he opted to remain at GMHBA Stadium where he is contracted until the end of 2022.
It's understood conversations with Cats captain Joel Selwood were integral in his decision to remain put and fight for a senior spot this season.
However, the Dockers are expected to only increase their interest in the 20-year-old who has been in and out of the Cats' senior side since round five.
Clark played the first four games of the year at AFL level before he was relegated to sub duties for three games and selected in the starting side on two more occasions. He subsequently hasn't been picked since round 11 and wasn't named an emergency last week with the Cats having a near full-strength squad to pick from.
The West Australian junior falls in the ideal age demographic for the Dockers to complement their rebuild under coach Justin Longmuir.
Clark was originally drafted after limited junior exposure at pick No.15 in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft and impressed with his daring run and carry off half-back in his debut campaign, playing 18 games and signing a contract extension to 2022.
He has played just 12 games since with the Cats opting to use him on a wing and a bit-part player in attack in 2021, having fallen out of their plans to play across half-back.
After admitting he was disgruntled at times during the hub in 2020, Clark attacked the 2021 pre-season with a strong block of summer training but has been overlooked recently in favour of others including recruits Isaac Smith and Shaun Higgins.
Any move would be dependent on the Cats allowing Clark to walk given he remains contracted. They previously held Tim Kelly to his contract in 2018 after strong interest in his home state. However, last year they allowed contracted midfielder/forward Lachie Fogarty to depart after he expressed a desire to move to Carlton. - Mitch Cleary
EAGLES' HANDS TIED IN TRADE PERIOD
WEST Coast will be blocked from trading its first-round pick this year unless it can collect a second early draft selection.
Under the AFL's future trading rules clubs must use two first-round picks at the NAB AFL Draft over a rolling four-year period. It is a handbrake put on by the League to ensure that clubs can't trade away all of their future picks and land themselves in long-term pain.
A clause in the rule allows clubs to apply for permission to trade out their picks even if they haven't hit the two-in-four requirement.
The Eagles are the only club this year that under the rules will not be able to trade out their first pick having not used a first-round pick in the past three drafts.
They swapped their future first-round selection (for 2018's draft) with Gold Coast in 2017, and then in 2019 traded out their first-round picks for that year and 2020 to Geelong in a deal to land Tim Kelly.
It means that they will also be unable to trade out their future first-round selection unless they can pick up a second for this year.
Hawthorn, Brisbane, Richmond and St Kilda have all used two first-round picks in the past three years and are free to trade their first pick this year should they choose.
Last year the Hawks and Bombers were unable to offload their first-round draft picks in trade deals until they obtained a second selection. - Callum Twomey
WALKER'S WAIT CONTINUES
ADELAIDE spearhead Taylor Walker remains without a contract offer for 2022 after his hot first half of the season.
The former Crows skipper has booted 37 goals in 12 games so far this season to sit second in the Coleman Medal race, a goal behind recently re-signed Blues star Harry McKay.
Walker, an unrestricted free agent this season, has not yet been presented with a deal for next year.
"Physically and mentally I'm in a great space so I'd love to play on next year providing that continues in the second half of the year and that's a discussion that we'll obviously have when it needs to be," Walker said.
Walker, who turned 31 this year, is Adelaide's greatest ever goalkicker in the club's history. Richmond spearhead Jack Riewoldt, who turns 33 this year, recently inked a one-year deal with the Tigers. – Callum Twomey
FORMER NO.1 PICK MENTORING POTENTIAL NO.1
JASON Horne doesn't have to look far for advice on how to handle the hype in South Australia as a prospective No.1 NAB AFL Draft pick.
The South Adelaide teenager's teammate in the midfield at the Panthers is former Carlton and Adelaide midfielder Bryce Gibbs, who was the Blues' prized No.1 pick in 2008.
Gibbs has enjoyed a standout season in the SANFL this season, including playing in South Australia's state side, while Horne has also been impressive playing across half-forward and on the ball.
Horne told AFL.com.au's Road to the Draft podcast he had been leaning on the 268-gamer.
"It's been great to have 'Gibbsy' there. He helps us young blokes out a lot and that's his job down there. It's been really good for me to have him, he's has been in the same position as I am in," Horne said.
"He's had a talk with all of the young boys who are in the reserves and League sides and I had my talk with him and it was really helpful and around what I need to do to keep playing well, which was really good."
Horne and Oakleigh Chargers prospect Nick Daicos are considered by clubs as the two leading contenders for the No.1 choice this year and the tough and explosive prospect said he was keen to get picked as early as possible.
"At the start it was just about getting drafted and being happy with whatever happens. And now I can see where I can go and I can go that high and it is a bit of a competitive thing that I want to go number one," Horne said.
"I'm happy when and where I go but it will be a reflection on the hard work I've put in." - Callum Twomey
BACK TO SCHOOL FOR MID-SEASON RECRUITS
PRIZED North Melbourne draftee Jacob Edwards will return to school football this weekend just a fortnight after being snapped up by the Roos.
The No.1 pick in the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft will play for Mentone Grammar against the Justin Leppitsch coached Peninsula Grammar on Saturday in the AGS competition after COVID-19 restrictions were eased in metro Melbourne.
Edwards has been training in one-on-one sessions with Roos staff since being selected but has been unable to enter the AFL program alongside teammates as he continues to attend school and live outside the AFL bubble.
He is likely to play out the season at school level and play a handful of games for the Roos' VFL side when available.
St Kilda draftee, and Edwards' former Sandringham Dragons teammate, Max Heath will remain at NAB League level this weekend. Heath will aim to play for school side Xavier College – where he is still attending – however they're fixtured for a bye in the APS competition on Saturday.
Alex Mirkov and Jordan Boyd (Carlton), Sam Durham (Essendon), Kalin Lane (Brisbane), Charlie Ham (North Melbourne), Matthew Parker (Richmond) and Jackson Callow (Hawthorn) are all be eligible to play VFL with their affiliates returning after a hiatus.
It is expected Gold Coast will work through whether Ned Moyle will play VFL after spending time quarantining on the edge of the NSW-QLD border having moved north from Victoria.
GWS signing James Peatling will continue playing for the Giants, while Casey Demons (Melbourne), Collingwood, Sandringham (St Kilda) and Sydney all have a VFL bye.
Elsewhere, Jed McEntee (Port Adelaide) and Patrick Parnell (Adelaide) have already donned their new club colours in the SANFL and Connor West and Will Collins likewise for West Coast in the WAFL.
Meantime, Collingwood international rookie signing Bassirou Faye has cleared quarantine in Australia after arriving from his native Senegal earlier this month as he begins preparations for his first ever match of football.
He has been given clearance to play for the Chargers in the NAB League this season and will continue to build his fitness before being selected having just returned to training and undergoing one-on-one sessions with assistant coach and former Richmond/Hawthorn forward Ty Vickery. - Mitch Cleary
LEAGUE APPOINTS NEW LIST MANAGEMENT BOSS
THE AFL has appointed Kon Karavias as its new head of list management and game analysis.
Karavias, who was the League's head of strategy, has joined the football operations team under Steve Hocking and replaced Josh Vanderloo, who will leave the AFL after more than a decade to join Hawthorn as its general manager of operations and special projects under chief executive Justin Reeves.
Karavias will work closely with the clubs across the list management space, including AFL and AFLW trade periods as well as the NAB AFL and AFLW Drafts.
He will also be central to the AFL's hopes to expand the player movement space for more in-season opportunities for players to join or swap clubs. - Callum Twomey
GO INSIDE THE COACHES' BOX FOR THE BIG ONE
All the tension and sounds from the 2020 Toyota AFL Grand Final in ON DEMAND