ADELAIDE director Mark Ricciuto has defended the exodus of Crows players in recent years, insisting his club couldn't compete with offers for Jake Lever, Charlie Cameron and Mitch McGovern.

After Patrick Dangerfield's defection to Geelong at the end of 2015, the Crows have also lost AFL regulars Eddie Betts, Hugh Greenwood, Alex Keath, Jarryd Lyons and Josh Jenkins to rival clubs.

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In a rare admission of player contract values from an individual inside a club, Ricciuito, a Crows great-turned board member, pointed at two departures following the 2017 Grand Final loss based on money.

Rising defender Lever refused to re-sign at Adelaide and moved home to play for Melbourne, while Cameron walked to Brisbane on a heavily front-ended deal despite having one year to run on his deal at West Lakes.

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The Crows received two first-round picks for Lever and pick 12 for Cameron that they turned into developing key forward Darcy Fogarty.

Part of the deal for Lever was on-traded in the same trade period to Carlton for Bryce Gibbs on a hefty four-year deal that expires at the end of 2021. Gibbs remains out of Adelaide's best side.

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"Jake Lever got a five-year deal (at Melbourne) on $800-850,000 (per season). (I'm) very comfortable we let him go on that money," Riccuito told Triple M.

"He's probably a $500,000 player.

"Charlie Cameron was one we didn't want to lose. One of few we weren't happy to let go.

"He got a very, very good contract from Brisbane who were down the bottom of the ladder and had money in their salary cap. (We) couldn't match that.

"When you're at the top of the ladder and your salary cap is chock-a-block, you haven't got much room to move do you? If you pay someone overs or a massive amount of money, then it means you need to lose someone else." 

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McGovern raised eyebrows when he requested a trade during 2018, despite having signed a three-year deal at Adelaide less than 12 months earlier.

He got his wish at the end of 2018, moving to Carlton to join former Crows assistant David Teague in a deal that effectively netted the Crows pick 13 (Ned McHenry) and the rights to mature-age player Shane McAdam.

"He's got what we want, we love people who contest in the forward line and have got plenty of speed and we need speed in the forward line," Riccuito said.

"But once again, $800-and-something-thousand (per season Carlton), has he delivered for Carlton yet? No. (I'm) comfortable that he went."

Other players to have left include free agent ruckman Sam Jacobs (Greater Western Sydney) and Cam Ellis-Yolmen (Brisbane), who both moved for greater opportunity. 

Ricciuto also confirmed that the Crows were paying parts of contracts for Jenkins (Geelong) and Betts (Carlton) after their moves last off-season.

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Ricciuto on...

"We needed to get some youth into our side. He's 33, we were comfort able for him to go. That's not a request to leave (to Carlton), that was a mutual agreement."

"(We were) very happy for him to go (to Geelong). Once again, age in our forward line. We needed to get some youth into our forward line. Very comfortable, we're even paying part of his contract. Same with Eddie Betts."

"That was probably more our call (move to Gold Coast on a four-year deal). Everyone says we've got the slowest midfield in the competition; you can't just keep having those players in your midfield then whinge you've got a slow midfield. He's 28 this year and not going to play in our next premiership side so we're trying to get draft picks in to rebuild."

"Alex Keath got offered a massive amount of money to go to Western Bulldogs. Like a large amount of money, more than double what he was on at Adelaide. That's what he wanted. If we had have kept him, we would've lost more players."