CARLTON has delivered a stunning backflip on the eve of finals, pulling out of the race for Richmond free agent Brandon Ellis.
Despite courting the premiership wingman for much of the season, the Blues have withdrawn their interest to focus on a pursuit of other trade targets.
Rival clubs and industry figures have become aware of the Ellis situation and his sudden availability after many had viewed the Blues as a clubhouse leader for the Tiger's services throughout the season.
It is believed the Blues' call on Ellis came late last week, even before they were denied another big target in Stephen Coniglio, who recommitted to the Giants on Tuesday.
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The Blues had been confident of landing Coniglio, who was being chased with a monster deal of up to $1.3 million per season and up to $2 million for the first season alone.
Gold Coast is coming hard at Ellis in an attempt to attract senior experience, with rivals now closely monitoring his intentions after previously anticipating he was due to land at the Blues.
Brisbane also enquired about the 26-year-old last year while he was under contract at the Tigers, before the explosion of youngsters Hugh McCluggage and Jarrod Berry.
As a top-10 earner at the Tigers this season, Ellis is a restricted free agent.
Coniglio's decision to snub Carlton's monster offer now leaves the Blues with a war chest to target potential recruits including Jack Martin, Tom Papley and Sam Gray.
Martin formally requested a move from the Suns on Tuesday and is set to meet with suitors including the Blues and Western Bulldogs in the next fortnight.
Jack Martin has requested a trade out of Gold Coast. Picture: AFL Photos
Papley remains contracted at Sydney for next year but is attracting serious interest, with Gray informing the Power he was looking at other opportunities.
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As revealed by AFL.com.au in July, Ellis had decided to park all negotiations until season's end to assess his free agency options.
Coniglio's recommitment leaves Ellis as one of few sought-after free agents in this year's crop. Others include Adam Tomlinson, Jamie Elliott and Todd Goldstein.