MICHAEL Hurley has turned his back on feverish interest from opposition clubs to sign a lucrative five-year contract extension with Essendon.
Hurley was contracted for 2017 but is now tied to the Bombers to the end of 2022 on a deal believed to be worth about $800,000 a season.
The 26-year-old had been seriously considering his future during his season-long WADA suspension.
The longer Hurley deliberated the more opposition teams entered the race for his services, with the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood understood to be his keenest suitors.
But Hurley has joined fellow suspended Bombers Dyson Heppell, Cale Hooker, Tom Bellchambers, Heath Hocking, Brent Stanton, Travis Colyer and David Myers in recommitting to Essendon.
"I took the time I needed to come to this decision, and to be honest I couldn't see my future anywhere other than Essendon," Hurley said on Thursday afternoon.
"What became clear was my strong bond with the playing group. I have some really great mates at the club, we've made a lot of progress and I want to achieve success alongside them.
"The club has made significant changes, John (Worsfold) has had a huge impact in a short period of time and I'm looking forward to playing under him next season and beyond."
Of the 12 suspended Dons, only Jobe Watson, Michael Hibberd, Ben Howlett and Tayte Pears have yet to announce whether they will return to Tullamarine.
Hurley is perhaps the most valuable of the eight Bombers who have recommitted to the club.
An All Australian in 2015, the 193cm backman is one of the competition's elite key defenders and can pinch-hit in attack when required.
Essendon CEO Xavier Campbell said the club had never lost hope Hurley would return after his suspension.
"We've always felt confident Michael would remain at the club due to the positive discussions we had with him and his management," he said.
"Michael feels confident in the direction of the club and is looking forward to resuming his career under John and working towards helping the club achieve success."
A simple tweet reading '#18' from Campbell spilled the beans on Hurley's signature.
#18— Xavier Campbell (@XCampbell79) August 18, 2016
"It doesn't matter how we find out, it's great news," teammate David Zaharakis told AFL.com.au minutes after the news broke.
"We finished earlier today, so the boys weren't in the meeting room or anything to get it announced," he said.
"Everyone just sort of filtered the news to each other.
"That's how we find out these days through the internet or Twitter or that kind of thing," he laughed.
Zaharakis couldn't wipe the smile off his face as he talked about how much Hurley's decision means to the side.
"He's an unbelievable backman for us, so it sort of cements that spine for us next year with obviously Hookesy (Cale Hooker) and Joey Daniher and Michael Hartley."