AFL.com.au presents Inside Trading, with breaking news and the best analysis of the AFL trade landscape covering contracts, re-signings, free agents, the AFL Draft and industry insights.
NORTH EYES PICK ONE
NORTH Melbourne has made a target of the No.1 draft pick this year and gun prospect Harley Reid with its suite of selections in the upcoming trade period.
The Kangaroos' hand of draft picks has been boosted by the League's assistance package handed to the club last year, leaving them with picks No.2, 14 and 19 this year, their first-rounder next year and two end-of-first-round picks in 2024.
Clubs also expect them to get a first-round compensation pick (No.3) for losing free agent Ben McKay to Essendon, which would significantly bolster their chances at tempting West Coast with an offer to trade down from pick one.
The Eagles can hold and wait for offers for the top pick before making a decision on if they slide back and split the selection, like they did last year with the No.2 pick.
North Melbourne is expected to be active this trade period using its strong draft hand over the two seasons.
The Kangaroos last year traded out pick No.1, becoming the first club since 2001 to do so.
Reid has been the nominal top pick at the draft since midway through his bottom-aged season in 2022 and lived up to the hype this season, making the All-Australian team for the second straight season. – Callum Twomey
INDICATIVE DRAFT ORDER What selections does your club hold?
DEE TO GO ON
MELBOURNE veteran Jake Melksham is set to go on at the Demons next year after his knee reconstruction late this season.
The 32-year-old has been out of contract and an unrestricted free agent after going down with the season-ending knee injury in round 24 against Sydney and missing the Demons’ finals series.
But the popular forward is set to play on in 2024, with details still to be worked through around whether he will be senior or rookie-listed in the deal. The injury will likely see him sidelined until past midway through next season.
Melksham’s absence in the forward line was felt by the Demons in the finals series, having booted 16 goals from round 16-24 since returning to their line-up.
The former Bomber has played 221 games at the top level, having crossed from Essendon at the end of 2015. – Callum Twomey
DRAFT HUB Click here for the latest draft news
MUCH-LOVED SUN CALLS IT QUITS
GOLD COAST midfielder Charlie Constable has retired from the AFL.
Constable, who captained the Suns to the VFL premiership this season in the absence of the club's suspended skipper James Tsitas, spent six years in the system at both Geelong and more recently Gold Coast.
The 191cm midfielder is now expected to play state league football elsewhere, having already garnered significant interest from WAFL clubs, following a career that featured 16 games at AFL level.
Constable started the season in Gold Coast's best team, winning 26 disposals playing across half-back in the side's round one loss to Sydney, but never featured again after being dropped following a round two defeat to Essendon.
But he a made a significant contribution to the side's successful VFL campaign, where the Suns ultimately claimed their first piece of silverware, averaging 29.9 disposals in 19 appearances.
Constable played 12 games across four years at Geelong, before he was delisted at the end of 2021. He was then recruited to Gold Coast at the national draft, where he added a further four matches in two seasons. – Riley Beveridge
TRADE HUB All the latest player movement news
BIG DOG DESTINED TO STAY
WESTERN Bulldogs key forward Aaron Naughton will not be going anywhere during this year's Trade Period, despite a series of clubs enquiring about his potential availability ahead of a contract season in 2024.
Naughton signed a long-term deal with the Bulldogs back in 2019 that expires at the end of next season, though he will not yet be a free agent when that contract comes to its conclusion.
However, despite a host of teams making calls as to whether he would consider a move this October, Naughton's agent Andrew McDougall from Corporate Sports Australia told Gettable on AFL Trade Radio that Naughton was committed to the Dogs.
"I can 100 percent confirm he is not going to move this year," McDougall told Gettable.
"Obviously, clubs are doing the right thing. They need to call and all that, I'd be doing the same thing if I was a list manager, but Aaron is committed to the club for next year. He's a contracted player and he'll definitely be staying at the Bulldogs next year."
Naughton's contract status has led to a different type of interest in his services to that of his teammate Tim English, with the All-Australian ruckman due to become one of the competition's hottest free agents next year.
"Aaron's a little bit different," McDougall said.
"At the same time, (Naughton) is settled in Melbourne. He's got a property in Port Melbourne and he really would like to achieve a bit more next year as well. The whole club is really keen to make the finals. We'll wait and see what happens." – Riley Beveridge
GWS BIG MAN TO STAY ON
OUT-OF-CONTRACT ruckman Braydon Preuss is set to earn another contract to remain at Greater Western Sydney after recovering from back surgery in 2023.
The 28-year-old didn’t make an AFL appearance this year and played only one VFL game around some practice matches due to the injury.
But with Matt Flynn expected to exercise his free agency rights in the coming weeks with West Coast his expected landing spot, the Giants want to retain Preuss to provide coverage behind breakout star Kieren Briggs and untried academy graduate Nick Madden.
Speaking on Trade Radio on Monday, GWS GM Jason McCartney said the club will offer Preuss a deal for 2024.
"We hadn't put offers to Matt or Braydon because we were just assessing in the back half of the year what we want that ruck space to look like," McCartney said.
"Braydon has missed a lot of footy through injury, but he got back and played some VFL footy late in the year.
"It is a position where you don’t want too many but you don’t want to be too short. We'll be going forward with Braydon and Kieren."
Preuss has played 10 games for the Giants – all in 2022 – since moving from Melbourne at the end of 2020, where he played 10 times across two seasons behind Max Gawn.
The Townsville product spent the first four seasons of his career stuck behind Todd Goldstein at North Melbourne before moving for greater opportunity after eight appearances for the Kangaroos. – Josh Gabelich
FOUR CLUBS TRIAL IRISH TALENTS
ESSENDON, Richmond, Geelong and Hawthorn will host the four Irish prospects for trials this week ahead of their testing at the AFL Draft Combine.
The AFL has brought out four talents – James McLaughlin, Eoin McElholm, Odran Murdock and Conor Corbett – to trial at clubs and also take part in the three-day Combine later this week.
The players were at the Bombers on Monday, with trials also to take place at the Tigers, Cats and Hawks through the week before the Combine commences on Friday at the Melbourne Park and MCG precinct.
Corbett is a 192cm star at Gaelic level, while McLaughlin is a sports all-rounder having played basketball, soccer, golf and Gaelic rules. McElholm is renowned for his speed, while Murdock is the standout player from his county, with all chasing an AFL contract.
The AFL's venture back into the Irish scene has seen Carlton sign two players – Rob Monahan and Matt Duffy – as category B rookies already, while St Kilda listed Liam O’Connell recently as well.
It also follows the AFL Grand Final, where Irishman Conor McKenna played for the Lions and American Mason Cox became a premiership player with Collingwood. – Callum Twomey
WHO'S ON THE MOVE Players to watch during the Trade period
NO VETERANS ADDITION
THE MOOTED return of a veterans list was not part of the AFL’s new collective bargaining agreement that was brokered between the League and the AFL Players’ Association last month.
The AFL had sent a survey to clubs in August asking for feedback on a range of possible new player movement rules, including the reintroduction of a veterans list that would have allowed clubs to list one player as a veteran if they were over 32 years old and had served at least 10 years at the same club.
For instance, it would have allowed Adelaide to list one of Rory Sloane or Taylor Walker as a veteran for 2024 and opened up another spot on their primary list. The idea was designed to keep veterans in the game without sacrificing a list spot that a youngster may have taken, with the veteran’s full payments still counted in the salary cap.
However, it was not a part of the CBA, with clubs not expecting it to be brought in for this off-season.
Clubs are anticipating two other of the AFL's proposed rule changes on rookie-listed players and future trading will come through for this year.
The rookie list tweak would see mid-season recruits such as Collingwood's Ash Johnson and Adelaide’s Patrick Parnell be able to be listed for three and a half years as a rookie instead of two and a half, having both been 2021 mid-season selections.
The other is around future trading, with current rules stating a club can only trade a future first-round pick if they hold a 'full suite' of future selections – their first, second, third and fourth-round picks.
But the AFL has sought feedback on removing the need to have a future fourth-rounder to be able to move the future first, which clubs believe will change this trade period. – Callum Twomey
DOCKERS KEEN TO KEEP FREE AGENT
Fremantle key defender Joel Hamling has been offered a one-year extension to remain at the Dockers in 2024.
The West Australian has been plagued by injuries across the past four seasons, managing only six AFL appearances since 2019, predominantly due to a lingering ankle concern.
But after playing 17 WAFL games for Peel Thunder in 2023 around four appearances for Justin Longmuir’s side in the closing seven rounds, Fremantle is finalising a new contract with the backman.
With key defenders hard to find, Hamling has attracted some interest after proving he is over the injury concerns that have limited his impact at Fremantle after playing 62 games in his first three seasons back in his home state.
The 30-year-old spent his first three seasons in the AFL on Geelong’s list before being signed as a delisted free agent by the Western Bulldogs after failing to register an appearance for the Cats.
Hamling played in the 2016 premiership win over Sydney before requesting a trade to Fremantle in the weeks after that drought-breaking victory. – Josh Gabelich