Tim English, Dustin Martin and Logan McDonald. Pictures: AFL Photos

A NEW year brings a whole new range of storylines in the trade space, so what will dominate the headlines this year?

A host of big-name players will come out of contract at the end of 2024, meaning some big decisions loom that will impact the entire competition.

TRADE HUB All the latest player movement news

Join Gettable co-hosts Cal Twomey and Riley Beveridge as they look ahead at the trade stories that will dominate 2024.


Who will join the million-dollar club?

There were 12 million-dollar players in 2022 and we can expect around the same number when the 2023 Total Player Payment numbers are released early this year. But the agreement of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement will see an increase in player salaries, which means we'll see plenty of new faces earning $1 million a season. AFL.com.au reported in December that Connor Rozee's monster eight-year deal will see him join the club, while his teammate Zak Butters, Brisbane midfielder Hugh McCluggage and Western Bulldogs ruckman Tim English - who are all nearing the end of their current deals - could also earn $1 million a season.

Hugh McCluggage during the 2023 Grand Final between Collingwood and Brisbane at the MCG, September 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The Tim English call

The long-term deal signed by Fremantle's Sean Darcy in December means Western Bulldogs ruck Tim English is the man who will shape the ruck merry-go-round for 2024. English, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of this season, has long been linked with a move back to Western Australia and is set to demand big dollars to either stay at the Kennel or head elsewhere. English's contract call will shape the future of other rucks on the market as the clubs who miss out on the 26-year-old look to fill the void.

Tim English celebrates a goal in the Western Bulldogs' win over Geelong in round 24, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Fremantle's war chest

While Sean Darcy has been signed to a long-term deal, Fremantle has both the cash and draft capital needed to make some big plays this year. Sydney forward Logan McDonald will be a target, but the Dockers won't stop there and won't restrict their search to WA talent either. With three first-round picks at their disposal - their own plus those linked to Collingwood and Port Adelaide - the Dockers will be hoping the Pies and Power slide in 2024 to maximise their trade capital.

Logan McDonald celebrates a goal during Sydney's elimination final loss to Carlton in 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The Unsettled

The serious injury to Bailey Smith adds even more intrigue to his contract call this year. With his 2024 campaign likely over before it began, Smith may well have already played his final game for the Western Bulldogs as clubs like Hawthorn and Geelong circle the young star. Melbourne swingman Harrison Petty attracted significant interest from Adelaide last year and you can expect the Crows to have another go at him this year. Troubled North Melbourne midfielder Tarryn Thomas will be another player in demand if he can shake off his off-field troubles and build on his strong finish to 2023.

Bailey Smith in action during the R22 match between Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn at UTAS Stadium on August 13, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Sydney's re-signings

Having made some big moves in the trade period, Sydney's attention will now turn to re-signing a host of young stars. Ollie Florent and Will Hayward are both free agents at the end of this year while Logan McDonald, Errol Gulden and James Rowbottom are also out of contract at the end of 2024. It's rare for the Swans to lose top-end talent - Jordan Dawson's move to Adelaide is the exception in recent years - but new deals for their out-of-contract young guns will chew up plenty of their salary cap.

Errol Gulden runs with the ball during Sydney's clash against Fremantle in round 19, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Who will be the first mid-season trade?

It's long been mooted and a mid-season trade period looms this year, with the backing of new CEO, Andrew Dillon. It will be fascinating to see what parameters are set for year one, with the possibility that only players of a certain age or level of experience will be available to be moved. Talls are expected to be in demand for clubs in the premiership window, with the likes of Matt Taberner and Denver Grainger-Barras the types of players who could be in demand if they continue to sit on the fringes at their current clubs.

Matt Taberner kicks the ball during the R2 match between Fremantle and North Melbourne at Optus Stadium on March 25, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The salary cap increase

The new CBA means the average player salary will go from $387,000 to $519,000 by the end of 2027, meaning a host of big-name players will benefit. The likes of Ben King, Todd Marshall, Liam Baker, Max Holmes and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan can all expect some big contracts to be offered as they ponder their futures. A host of clubs also have some cash to splash on some big names, with North Melbourne, West Coast, Adelaide, Hawthorn, Fremantle and Essendon all with room in their salary cap to make some big plays.

Ben King (left) in action during Gold Coast's clash with Carlton in round 14, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Dusty's call

After famously signing a seven-year deal in 2017, Dustin Martin will be uncontracted at Richmond at the end of this year. The link with Gold Coast has always been rumoured and the arrival of former Tigers coach Damien Hardwick to the Suns will only fuel speculation of a move north for the 2025 season. 

Dustin Martin during Richmond's match against West Coast in R18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

No.1 picks face big calls

A handful of former top draft picks will have contract calls to make this year, although Aaron Cadman isn't one of them after he committed last month. The future of Jamarra Ugle-Hagan will be a major talking point this year, especially after fellow Bulldogs tall Aaron Naughton signed a long-term deal to stay. Essendon's Andrew McGrath, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2024 season, is another player with a decision to make.

Aaron Cadman during GWS' clash with the Western Bulldogs in round 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

West Coast's shake up

With the Eagles in rebuild mode, it'll be fascinating to see how many - if any - of their established players they'll be happy to part with (for the right price) at the end of 2024. The likes of Liam Ryan, Andrew Gaff, Elliot Yeo, Liam Duggan and Jack Darling would all add value at other clubs, so the Eagles might be willing to trade them if they get some draft capital in return. The Eagles are also expected to chase WA ruckman Tim English, while Richmond's Liam Baker could also be on their radar.

Jack Darling during the round 20 clash between West Coast and North Melbourne at Optus Stadium on July 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos