CYRIL Rioli's retirement should give Hawthorn enough salary cap space to land both Tom Lynch and Rory Sloane.
Rioli dropped a bombshell on Wednesday morning when he announced he was hanging up the boots despite being contracted with the Hawks until the end of 2020.
Losing the electrifying small forward will leave a gaping hole in Hawthorn's attack, but it will also free up significant room in the club's salary cap as it bids for in-demand free agents Lynch and Sloane.
The Hawks have been strongly linked to Lynch for much of this season, but face stiff competition from Richmond and Collingwood for the Gold Coast co-captain's signature if he decides to come home to Victoria.
More recently, Hawthorn has emerged as a contender for Adelaide star Sloane. Again, it will have a fight on its hands if he chooses to leave West Lakes, with St Kilda and Essendon among the clubs understood to have their hats in the ring.
Before Rioli's retirement it appeared – barring some serious list maneuvering – the Hawks had the cap space to take on just one of the star free agents.
However, Wednesday's development suddenly changes all that.
As one of the best and most decorated players on Hawthorn's list, Rioli was understood to earn an average of about $650,000 a season.
The money he was due to earn over the coming two years could be less than that if his contract was front-ended, while it's also possible the Hawks could pay him an amount from its salary cap next year as part of the terms of his retirement.
Regardless, Hawthorn will be left with considerable space it had not budgeted for.
It will also get Ty Vickery's salary of about $500,000 a season off its books next year, while it has yet to re-sign free agents Shaun Burgoyne, Taylor Duryea, Paul Puopolo, Ryan Schoenmakers and Brendan Whitecross.
The Hawks have proved to be one of the competition's most appealing 'destination' clubs over recent years, attracting stars such as Jack Gunston, Tom Mitchell, Jaeger O'Meara and James Frawley.
They have just been armed to make even more enticing pitches to Lynch and Sloane.
Share your Cyril Rioli memories
As Rioli hangs up the boots, we'd love to hear your favourite memories of the superstar Hawk. Perhaps it was a brilliant play, a match-turning performance, or a personal encounter.
You can share your story using the form below and we'll publish the best responses on AFL.com.au later today.
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