CLUBS remain in the dark over how they are expected to compensate players who were on deals heavily loaded in 2020.
Carlton recruit Jack Martin and Greater Western Sydney spearhead Jeremy Cameron are among the players around the competition who have deals either front-ended, back-ended or due for a spike this year, with both understood to be due to earn more than $1 million each this year.
Cameron is one of three Giants who will qualify as restricted free agents this year, with the full list revealed exclusively by AFL.com.au on Wednesday.
However the impact of the coronavirus, which will see players receive pay cuts this year and salary caps likely slashed in coming seasons, has created a conundrum for players who had organised to receive a significant chunk of their deals this year or in coming seasons.
The AFL Players' Association engaged in a hook-up with player agents on Tuesday, with managers searching for answers on how these players will be paid if they have contract variances that were set to jump this year.
They were told the 50 per cent cut for May and June, which could increase to 70 per cent for July-October if no matches are played, would be a blanket figure across all contracted players for their 2020 wage.
It is understood many agents believe it will take a 'goodwill' gesture from clubs to honour players who had built-in contract rises this year, with no specific safeguards in place for the players who had organised their deals in that way.
Often players will agree to structure their deals differently, allowing for clubs to change their total player payments. For instance, a player could be on an average of $600,000 over a three-year contract, but could get $1 million of that in one of the years, and then earn $400,000 the other two.
Players regularly reshape long-term deals to help their respective clubs' salary cap positions.
But clubs contacted by AFL.com.au on Wednesday remain unsure on how they will be meant to pay players who are caught in the COVID-19 trap of deals that peak in 2020.
There is a belief that there can't be an 'ideal' rule applied to all cases, as some players would actually be on the other end of the luck – those who had heavily front-ended deals that are ending this year. The clubs would not be expected to recoup any of that money.
Managers are hopeful clubs would prioritise players who had moved money to their projected 2020 payments or for coming years.
The AFL is expected to provide an update on the complex contract situation in coming weeks, with a wider look at where the competition sits to be revealed on April 27.