FOR EVERY Marlion Pickett, there's a Josh Deluca.
The former Fremantle small forward/midfielder was taken by Carlton in the Mid-Season Rookie Draft, uprooting his life from Western Australia for a six-month contract and the dream of reigniting his AFL career.
Deluca had played four games over three years with Fremantle, delisted and re-drafted twice by the Dockers through that time before his final axing in 2017.
He spent 2018 and half of 2019 with Subiaco in the WAFL, culminating in a best-on-ground performance in a WAFL v SANFL match in May of this year.
Two weeks later, Deluca was drafted by the Blues with the No.1 pick in the newly reinstated mid-season draft, the first since 1993 – three years before the 23-year-old was born.
He played six straight games for Carlton between rounds 18 and 23, averaging 11.8 disposals and 3.8 tackles and kicking four goals, before his contract wasn't renewed.
Deluca is now stuck between two states, currently without a footy club and trying to figure out his work prospects.
Compare that to Tiger and fellow sandgroper Pickett, who debuted in the Grand Final, finished third in the Norm Smith and – most importantly – has a contract for next season.
Of the 13 players selected in the mid-season draft, just two – Deluca and ex-Swan Cody Hirst – weren't offered a contract by their club for 2020.
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Deluca told SEN Carlton had indicated he would be eventually signed for 2020 when he was initially drafted.
"Yep, 100 per cent (thought he had a spot for 2020). I was pretty devastated and shocked, just because I thought I was in a better position than I found out to be," Deluca said.
"I would have loved the opportunity to get a pre-season in and really had a good crack at it next year, even if it was just a year contract. I was pretty flat.
"They were pretty reassuring it wouldn't be, so I was pretty flat to hear when that result came back and circumstances had changed."
The inclusion of small forwards Eddie Betts and Jack Martin, along with the failed pursuits of Tom Papley and Dan Butler frustrated Deluca, who felt he was forced out and wondered why he was drafted in the first place.
"That was sort of the conversation (between himself and Carlton) pre-trade, and then it turns out they were going for three or four forwards," he said.
"I understood that, but what I was thinking was along the lines of, 'you would have had an idea you were going for those players earlier in the season,', and I didn't understand why I was picked up in the first place if that was the case."
Deluca is now leaning towards staying in Victoria and playing VFL in the hope of a third AFL club throwing him a lifeline, although he hasn't yet had any indication he is a chance of earning a pre-season supplementary selection rookie spot.
After all is said and done, would he take up another contract as a mid-season rookie?
"I'd never say no to an AFL contract, but I'd probably want a bit more reassurance that it wouldn't end like this. It's hard coming over from Perth, it puts your life on hold," Deluca said.
"In terms of your work opportunities, I wouldn't want it to have a big effect on that. But of course, I'd take a contract if it was thrown at me."