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Deal or no deal? 31 Hawks set to come out of contract in 2019

Jaeger O'Meara is out of contract at the end of 2019 - AFL,Hawthorn Hawks,Contracts,Trade
Jaeger O'Meara is out of contract at the end of 2019

JAEGER O'Meara, Jarryd Roughead, Grant Birchall and potential captains Liam Shiels and Ben Stratton headline Hawthorn's AFL-most 31 players set to come out of contract next year.

That figure is two more than Collingwood's unsigned group ahead of its 2018 campaign and includes 2014 premiership player Will Langford, who remains on the Hawks' list, but has retired.

Flag stars Shaun Burgoyne, James Frawley, Ben McEvoy and Paul Puopolo, club champion runner-up Blake Hardwick and teenage cult hero James Worpel are also in line for fresh deals.

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The Hawks are sure to again be major players in the exchange period, and Waverley Park is already being mentioned as a potential landing point for Giants free agent Stephen Coniglio.

Part of that owes to Coniglio being best mates with fellow West Australian O'Meara, who is yet to begin negotiations on a new contract, with his three-year deal after crossing from Gold Coast set to expire.

Hawthorn should have cash to burn – although that isn't four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson's style – after failing to lure Rory Sloane, Tom Lynch, Steven May and Dylan Shiel this year.

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The possibility of Roughead, Burgoyne and Puopolo retiring after the 2019 season would also clear significant salary cap space, on top of club great Cyril Rioli's decision to call it quits.

Birchall, Frawley, McEvoy and Stratton remain key contributors, but will all be on the wrong side of 30 next year and may recommit on reduced deals.

Birchall, who has played only five games since the start of 2017 because of a persistent right knee injury, is confident he has at least two seasons left in him.

Adding intrigue to Hawthorn's situation is the overall age demographic of the list, which is the AFL's oldest (average of 24.9 years) and most experienced (80.4 games).

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Isaac Smith, the favourite to be Roughead's successor as skipper, turns 30 on December 30, too.

Combine all that with the Hawks' recruitment of proven talent Chad Wingard, 25, and Tom Scully, 27, and the evidence suggests they believe a flag is within reach as soon as next season.

COMMENT Why it's time for the Hawks to strike

O'Meara, Hardwick and Worpel are part of the next wave of Hawthorn footballers – some of whom are already stars – along with Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell, James Sicily, Dan Howe and Harry Morrison.

Shiels and All Australian forwards Luke Breust and Jack Gunston, who are contracted until 2021 and 2022, respectively, also loom as important pieces in any ongoing success.

Mitchell, 25, has switched management companies to join Mark Jones' The Sports Group, which boasts big-name clients Daniel Ricciardo, James Magnussen, Craig Bellamy and Steve Hooker.

HAWKS' OUT-OF-CONTRACT 31

Grant Birchall, Kaiden Brand, Shaun Burgoyne, Jon Ceglar, James Cousins, James Frawley, Conor Glass, Will Golds, Damon Greaves, Oliver Hanrahan, Blake Hardwick, Ricky Henderson, Changkuoth Jiath, Harrison Jones, Will Langford*, Ben McEvoy, Teia Miles, Darren Minchington, David Mirra, Tim Mohr, Dylan Moore, Tim O'Brien, Jaeger O'Meara, Marc Pittonet, Paul Puopolo, Jackson Ross, Jarryd Roughead, Ryan Schoenmakers, Liam Shiels, Ben Stratton, James Worpel.

* Langford is contracted for 2019, but retired in October after being delisted