WHILE eight teams can now start planning for the first week of finals, it's season over and September holidays for the bottom 10 sides.
Some are shock absentees from the finals, while others have had seasons that many expected.
Injuries, coaching turmoil and holes in playing lists have all played their part, but what is each team's first priority during the off-season?
The rebuilding Hawks haven't done an awful lot wrong in their quest for their "next piece of silverware", as coach Alastair Clarkson is fond of saying. Tim O'Brien and Mitch Lewis look a likely forward combination, while James Worpel is a bona fide star. But Hawthorn is now well-placed to have its highest draft pick since selecting Ryan Burton with pick 19 in 2015. The Hawks have done well with two of their low picks (Lewis at 76 and Worpel at 45) in the interim but nailing a first-rounder will help enormously.
10. Port Adelaide
At their best, the Power were very, very good, but at their worst, they were horrid. Trying to find a solution to Port Adelaide's consistency issues should be top of the list of things to do this off-season. The Power's averaging winning margin from 11 victories was 38.6 points, while their average losing margin from 11 losses was 30.5. It's a good illustration of how there was no in-between for the South Australian side. Port has good key position stocks, but its midfield is prone to going missing at times. A team-wide ban on water-skiing late in the pre-season should also be on the agenda.
Code red (blue and gold) for the Crows. Adelaide has the third-oldest list in the competition and is now at a critical juncture in its list management strategy. Andy Otten has retired, while Richard Douglas has been told his time is up at the Crows but is open to playing on. Veteran ruck Sam Jacobs is out of contract, while Cam Ellis-Yolmen, Hugh Greenwood and Alex Keath are also unsigned. Meanwhile, Bryce Gibbs (30 years old), Eddie Betts (32) and Josh Jenkins (30) are all on decent contracts and have spent time in the SANFL this year. Missing finals for a second consecutive year after making the Grand Final? It may be time for a list revamp.
Season 2019 has been a big disappointment for the ageing Crows. Picture: AFL Photos
12. North Melbourne
North Melbourne's ongoing quest to sign a big star has lasted several years, but should the Roos abandon it completely and settle on another approach this off-season? Recruits Jared Polec and Jasper Pittard settled into the line-up as the season progressed and have become important members of the team. It shows that smaller, needs-based targets can be just as useful as that elusive big fish. In the quest for their first finals appearance since 2016, filling the gaps is vital.
Pretty obvious one for the beleaguered Dockers – find a senior coach and a CEO. It was a sudden, brutal dismissal for Ross Lyon and Steve Rosich one week before the end of the season, after Fremantle had been officially ruled out of finals. The club's board has already set up two separate panels to interview candidates. Collingwood assistant (and former Docker) Justin Longmuir and Western Australia's under-18 leader Peter Sumich are believed to be leading the race for the coaching job.
Ross Lyon fronts the media after being dumped as Fremantle coach. Picture: AFL Photos
14. St Kilda
Players should prepare themselves for a long summer of skill work. It's been an issue for a number of years now, but caretaker coach Brett Ratten – frontrunner for the permanent job – has consistently bemoaned both poor disposal and decision-making, as well as goalkicking inaccuracy. "If we can't improve in that space, players can't play here, and we have to get players who can develop and improve in that space, or we have to recruit them," Ratten said after the round 23 loss to Sydney.
Brett Ratten has plenty to ponder over summer - if he is appointed full-time. Picture: AFL Photos
Every year teams lose experienced players to retirement, but Sydney's class of 2019 is quite something. Heath Grundy, Nick Smith, Jarrad McVeigh and Kieren Jack depart with 1048 games' experience between them. While the Swans' defensive stocks are relatively strong, they should be on the hunt for some experienced midfielders looking for a change to boost their engine power depth. Dan Hannebery went to St Kilda last season, while there's been a strong reliance on Josh Kennedy (31 years old) and Luke Parker this year. The kids will be good, but are still a little way off. Getting Lance Franklin's hamstring right should also be high on the list.
Throw the kitchen sink (and a carpark out the front of Ikon Park) at Stephen Coniglio. The GWS star and restricted free agent still hasn't re-committed to his club, with the Blues one of the sides very keen on his signature. Carlton has a good on-field structure now in place, with young players on the rise on every line, and Coniglio would add some experienced firepower. The Blues are also on the hunt for a small forward, with Swan Tom Papley linked to the club.
Can the Blues land the biggest fish of all this summer in Stephen Coniglio? Picture: AFL Photos
To go from a preliminary final to missing the top eight is a poor season. To finish second-last after playing in the second-last week of September is an absolute 'dee-saster'. As the season meandered to an inevitable close, the injury-hit Demons looked disinterested, poor and above all, slow. Scoring was an issue due to the number of key forwards on the sidelines, but the delivery inside 50 was also dismal, in part due to the lack of speed in the midfield. The Dees have the ball-winners inside, but they'll need to find some answers on the outside, and quickly. Fremantle's Ed Langdon is high on Melbourne's wishlist and will help in filling the void.
18. Gold Coast
Pull together a convincing presentation to the AFL as to why the Suns are deserving of a priority pick. The first dot point – bolded, italicised, underlined and highlighted – should be 18 straight losses by an average margin of 49.4. Chairman Tony Cochrane indicated mid-season the club was keen to ask for a priority selection, which could give the Suns picks 1 and 2 in this year's draft. That would potentially allow them to select best mates Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson.
The Suns are desperate for help after 18 straight losses to end the season. Picture: AFL Photos