HAWTHORN has completed the first step in its two-part midfield regeneration plan by agreeing to a trade for Tom Mitchell, but the Hawks' deal with the Sydney Swans could make it even tougher for them to kick-start their stalled bid to land Sun Jaeger O'Meara.
The Hawks have reached an in-principle agreement with the Swans to trade their first-round pick, currently No.14 overall, for Mitchell and a swap of later picks, and the deal is expected to be finalised next week.
This followed the bombshell news earlier on Wednesday that Hawthorn champion Sam Mitchell is set to move to West Coast as part of a deal that will see him play with the Eagles next season and possibly 2018 and then move into an assistant coaching role on what is believed to be an initial three-year term.
The Hawks have made little progress in their talks with Gold Coast on O'Meara and losing pick No.14 to the Swans won't help their cause.
The Suns were eyeing that pick as part of an O'Meara deal, thinking it could help them trade for Brisbane Lions defender Pearce Hanley.
Gold Coast already holds pick No.8 but is not prepared to offer that to the Lions, while it is unlikely the Lions would consider their next selection, No.19, for Hanley.
Up until now the Suns have been unwilling to entertain offers of future picks for O'Meara, but if they relent the Hawks are able to offer their 2017 first-round pick.
That aside, however, the Hawks' hand of draft picks is thin.
They appear certain to receive pick No.23 from Fremantle – the compensation selection the Dockers received following free agent Chris Mayne's departure to Collingwood – in exchange for premiership wingman Bradley Hill in a deal that could be finalised as early as Thursday morning.
But Hawthorn's next pick does not fall until No.36.
It is unlikely the Hawks' position will be meaningfully improved by Sam Mitchell's move to West Coast.
Mitchell's manager, Peter Lenton, suggested on Wednesday the five-time best and fairest winner might not even attract a second-round pick from the Eagles given he's 34.
So the pressure on the Hawks to offer the Suns a quality player for O'Meara looks likely to intensify.
Brisbane Lions skipper Tom Rockliff met new senior coach Chris Fagan and football manager David Noble in Melbourne on Wednesday.
The contracted Rockliff flew back to Brisbane with plenty to consider, as the Lions remain open to offers for the 26-year-old midfielder who has won two club best and fairest awards.
There has not been a lot of interest in Rockliff from other clubs so far this NAB AFL Trade Period, with Collingwood ruling itself out as a potential new home on Wednesday morning.
Adelaide, the club that has been linked most strongly with the Lions captain, also appears to have its hands full attempting to trade with Carlton for Bryce Gibbs.
Richmond and Gold Coast have continued discussions around Suns midfielder Dion Prestia without a breakthrough at this point.
While there is a firm commitment from the Tigers to bring in the tough onballer, the club is not certain to give up its first draft pick, No.6 overall, as part of the deal.
The Tigers could yet offer a player as part of the trade to ensure they hold that prized selection.
Prestia has been offered a five-year deal to join the Tigers, subject to the clubs completing a trade.
Richmond is also attempting to negotiate a deal to land Geelong midfielder Josh Caddy, but faces a tough ask convincing the Cats to part with the 24-year-old.
Caddy, who is contracted for a further two seasons, appears willing to move to Richmond if the clubs agree to swap him for Tigers star Brett Deledio.
A source close to Deledio on Wednesday night said there was no truth to rumours the midfielder was interested in joining the Western Bulldogs and the Cats remained his preferred destination.
Caddy's manager, Lenton, told NAB AFL Trade Radio on Wednesday the midfielder had purchased a house in Geelong three weeks ago and was never planning to leave.
"It's something that we're happy to leave in the hands of the clubs … if Geelong feels it's not what they want to do then that's where Josh's head is at," Lenton said.
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Tigers midfielder Reece Conca is still considering a two-year contract offer to stay with the club, but Carlton forward Dennis Armfield has agreed to terms to play on at Ikon Park in 2017.
Greater Western Sydney forward Jarrod Pickett remains focused on a move to Carlton despite late interest from North Melbourne.
The Giants are believed to have discussed Pickett with North, who is contracted for 2017, as part of a larger trade that could also involve GWS midfielder Paul Ahern.
However, while the Roos remain open to a deal involving Pickett, 2014's No.4 draft pick appears determined to head to Ikon Park, where he knows former Giants Jed Lamb, Andrew Phillips, Lachie Plowman and Liam Sumner, and fellow West Australian Patrick Cripps.
If the Giants can't reach a trade with the Blues, who are also seeking to broker a deal for GWS key defender Caleb Marchbank, Pickett at this stage would prefer to serve out the final year of his contract at GWS.
Zac Clarke is edging closer to re-signing with Fremantle after further discussions on Wednesday, with a new three-year deal a possibility.
The free agent's future could be resolved as soon as Thursday, with West Coast the only other option he is seriously considering.
If Clarke recommits to the Dockers, the Eagles will turn their attention to the other candidates they are considering to help cover injured ruckman Nic Naitanui's absence next season, a list that includes departing North Melbourne tall Drew Petrie.
The Dockers have also gained a commitment from Geelong forward Shane Kersten to join them, with the 23-year-old keen to move in search of consistent senior opportunities.
The Dockers are likely to offer a selection between pick No.50 and No.60 for Kersten, but currently hold picks No.43 and No.61 so there will likely be some negotiation before a deal can be struck.
Fremantle is also waiting on a decision from Western Bulldogs premiership defender Joel Hamling on whether he wants to head back to Western Australia.
West Coast key defender Eric Mackenzie is likely to serve out the final year of his contract next season, but a rival club could yet make a late play for the 2014 best and fairest winner.
The Lions will aim to secure Collingwood defender Jack Frost, who has played 54 games with the Magpies, with a selection late in the third round.
Western Bulldogs midfielder Nathan Hrovat has met with Carlton and North Melbourne and is considering his options.