SOMETHING significant happened this week that may not have immediately felt that way.

The announcement of the full breadth of the AFL's latest rookie rules, first revealed in early October, heralded a new era in player movement – and promises so much more.

AFL brings in mid-season rookie draft

Previously-listed footballers who spent a season or more out of the game no longer have to go through a nerve-racking draft experience to find an AFL home again as a Category A rookie.

They can instead sign with a club in the pre-season supplemental selection period (SSP) between December 1 and March 15, after all the drafts are over.

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Shane Mumford and Zac Clarke are set to resume their careers by that route at Greater Western Sydney and (almost certainly) Essendon, respectively.

A number of ex-players reigniting AFL interest could join them: Jye Bolton, Mitch Grigg, Jonathon Marsh, Andrew Boston, Josh Clayton, Fraser Thurlow, Keegan Brooksby, Haiden Schloithe, Jesse Palmer, Sam Fisher, Corey Wagner, Matt Hammelmann and Alex Woodward. 

Players in that situation can now choose the club from which they want to relaunch, if there is sufficient interest, rather than entering the draft lottery.

It is unclear at this stage whether anyone withdrew their draft nomination, or didn't nominate at all, ahead of Friday's deadline as a result of the AFL clarifying the new rule a day earlier.

However, what these rules still prevent is a player who was overlooked in the previous year's drafts, but has never been on an AFL list, signing for a club without nominating for the draft again.

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That means players such as GWS Academy ruckman Kieren Briggs, West Australian Luke Foley and Victorian Laitham Vandermeer must try their luck in the draft.

Tim Kelly was in that position last year, so he still would have had to enter the draft rather than achieving his preference of going straight to West Coast.

Briggs, Foley and Vandermeer can link up with a club in the SPP if they are again overlooked at this year's drafts, which is considered unlikely.

The only players who would still not be eligible after missing out at the draft are those who committed for a further year as a 19-year-old in a Northern Academy or Next Generation Academy.

This rule puts the AFL one (tentative) step closer to its American sporting cousins.

For example, players immediately become free agents in the NBA once they are overlooked in a draft or are cut from a team.

And why not?

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Every club has had a chance to draft them by that stage and it is then up to teams to convince the player – if there is competition, that is – to join them if they suddenly are of interest.

The AFL's historically been quite conservative with these sorts of decisions, so it was always unlikely the powers that be would make such a grand leap towards free agency-for-all in one move.

It's more probable that will come in the future, maybe even next year.

Those players snubbed at the draft one year who dramatically improve their stocks the following season deserve the chance to take back the power.