THE ONGOING negotiations about playing list sizes continue to create uncertainty for footballers' future, but decisions are starting to be made for many of them.
As for the rest, the waiting game may last through the AFL Trade Period in November. AFL.com.au has compiled your club's out-of-contract players as of this weekend.
Out of contract: Ben Crocker, Brad Crouch, Jordan Gallucci, Kyle Hartigan, Ben Keays, David Mackay, Myles Poholke, Kieran Strachan
Rory Atkins doesn't appear on this list, having already revealed he will exercise his free agency rights to join a new club, which is understood to be Gold Coast. Crouch clouded his situation when police busted him and teammate Tyson Stengle allegedly with an illicit substance in the early hours of Monday morning. He's linked with a move to the Cats, but whether this incident impacted on that and the Crows' hopes of receiving pick two as free agency compensation remains to be seen. Keays proved a bargain addition this season and is in negotiations to extend his stay, while Hartigan and Strachan are also in discussions for new deals. The remaining players will have to bide their time.
Out of contract: Jacob Allison, Grant Birchall, Allen Christensen, Cedric Cox, Matt Eagles, Mitch Hinge, Ryan Lester, Corey Lyons, Stefan Martin, Sam Skinner, Toby Wooller
Birchall had a contract trigger to lock in another season, but he'll make a decision on his future at season's end. Lester's had a string of one-year deals and is set to score another after a solid season in defence. The Lions would enter the ruck market if Martin, who's been sidelined this year with back stress fractures, chooses not to play on in 2021. The others face a nervous wait, but there remains some rival intrigue in Cox, the talent-rich No.24 pick from the 2016 NAB AFL Draft.
Out of contract: Eddie Betts, Matthew Kennedy, Harrison Macreadie, Callum Moore, Matthew Owies, Fraser Phillips, Cameron Polson, Tom Williamson
Betts is set to go around again, helped by would-be recruit and fellow small forward Tom Papley electing to stay at Sydney. The other standout name in this group is Kennedy, who had some strong performances as an inside midfielder this year. He's long been in discussions with the Blues about a new contract and should score one rather than having to join a third club, especially with Jack Graham choosing to stay at Richmond. Williamson is closing in on a two-year extension. The other five guys may need to be patient.
Out of contract: Flynn Appleby, Atu Bosenavulagi, Tim Broomhead, Josh Daicos, Jordan De Goey, Lynden Dunn, Levi Greenwood, Mark Keane, Jack Madgen, Brody Mihocek, Darcy Moore, Matthew Scharenberg, Anton Tohill, Travis Varcoe, Rupert Wills
The Pies still have the headache of re-signing all of De Goey, Moore and Daicos, as well as Mihocek, who's become a key cog in their attack after humble beginnings. AFL.com.au revealed Collingwood has offered Mihocek a three-year deal, which may have a trigger for a fourth season. Scharenberg didn't have any serious suitors a year ago, but will again be gettable, possibly as a delisted free agent. Bosenavulagi showed promise this season and is hopeful of a new deal, while there are some unsigned veterans who could be touch and go. Ben Reid has already retired. Wills will have to wait again, like he did last year.
Out of contract: Henry Crauford, Joe Daniher, Marty Gleeson, Brayden Ham, Kyle Langford, Jayden Laverde, Andy McGrath, Irving Mosquito, Andrew Phillips, Jordan Ridley, Adam Saad, Will Snelling, James Stewart, Jacob Townsend
Club champion Ridley is close to re-signing for up to four seasons, while the Bombers have a five-year offer in front of Saad, but he also has ardent suitors in Carlton and North Melbourne. Essendon is prepared to offer as many as four years for restricted free agent Daniher, who has interest from Brisbane, Sydney and Geelong. McGrath isn't going anywhere and will agree to a two-year deal once the salary cap figure is locked in. Outside of that group, there's positive movement on a new deal for Langford, Gleeson has a contract trigger in place, and Snelling should get another season after a top-10 best and fairest finish. Ankle surgery ruined Laverde's campaign, but he should secure a new deal at Essendon, or elsewhere. Mosquito could net a two-year deal, while speedster Ham, utility Townsend and ruckmen Phillips and Crauford are in a holding pattern.
Out of contract: Bailey Banfield, Brett Bewley, David Mundy, Lachie Schultz, Leno Thomas
Brennan Cox enjoyed a breakout 2020 campaign in the absence of the Dockers' first-choice backmen and signed off on a two-year deal this week. Promising midfielder Luke Valente won't be returning home to South Australia, having committed to a two-year extension. Mundy isn't rushing his decision on whether to play on, but the 35-year-old's form was well and truly strong enough to continue. Schultz didn't miss a game this season and Bewley made 12 appearances, so they would appear to be in the club's calculations.
Out of contract: Gary Ablett, Oscar Brownless, Brad Close, Nakia Cockatoo, Darcy Fort, Zach Guthrie, Tom Hawkins, Lachie Henderson, Ben Jarvis, Jacob Kennerley, Nathan Kreuger, Quinton Narkle, Stefan Okunbor, Brandan Parfitt, James Parsons, Blake Schlensog, Sam Simpson, Jake Tarca, Harry Taylor, Zach Tuohy
Ablett remains committed to retiring at season's end, but this year's Coleman medallist, Hawkins, is nearing a new agreement. Parfitt is edging closer to a likely two-year pact and Rhys Stanley scored a 2021 deal, but there is fascination around Cockatoo's status. Brisbane is leading the race if the talented but injury-prone livewire chooses to leave, although there is still a chance he remains at the Cattery. Tuohy continues to play at a high level and is believed to be keen for a two-year contract, while Jack Henry quietly inked a fresh one-year deal a few weeks back. Narkle is still waiting to receive an offer, with Geelong having plenty on its plate, including interest in the likes of Brad Crouch, Shaun Higgins, Joe Daniher and Jack Viney. Another intriguing one is Fort, who is generating interest in the ruck market. The younger Guthrie will wait until season's end to make a call.
Out of contract: Jarrod Harbrow, Patrick Murtagh, Malcolm Rosas
There won't be any other delistings at the Suns. Harbrow said at Gold Coast's best and fairest count he was playing on next season, but there's yet to be official confirmation. Rosas is set to be upgraded to the primary list on a one-year deal, while former decathlete Murtagh will remain a Sun in 2021.
Out of contract: Callum Brown, Jack Buckley, Jye Caldwell, Jeremy Cameron, Jackson Hately, Zac Langdon, Daniel Lloyd, Shane Mumford, Xavier O'Halloran, Sam Reid, Zach Sproule
Aidan Corr and Zac Williams will exercise their free agency rights to join North Melbourne and Carlton, respectively. The Giants won't offer Heath Shaw a contract for next year, but he's keen to play elsewhere. There is significant interest in what happens with Cameron and Caldwell. GWS is believed to have increased its offer to Caldwell from two years to four, but St Kilda and several other clubs are circling. Hately seems likely to land at Adelaide in search of greater opportunity, but big man Mumford could delay (a second) retirement for another year. O'Halloran also has admirers and what he does may depend on what happens with Caldwell and Hately.
Out of contract: Keegan Brooksby, James Frawley, Ollie Hanrahan, Dan Howe, Will Golds, Damon Greaves, Changkuoth Jiath, Harry Jones, Jacob Koschitzke, Darren Minchington, Dylan Moore, Jackson Ross, Jack Scrimshaw, Isaac Smith, Mathew Walker
Scrimshaw is the best long-term prospect among this crop and set to score a two-year deal, but the Hawks are fighting hard to keep Smith. An indication of that is they are considering breaking their over-30 policy of offering only one-year contracts. Frawley's future is uncertain, particularly with Hawthorn entering somewhat of a rebuild. Ned Reeves, Conor Nash, Harry Morrison, Emerson Jeka and Category B rookie Harry Pepper are all locked in for at least next year. Howe and Greaves are on track for fresh deals – possibly just for next season – but may have to wait a bit, along with the likes of Jones, Moore, Hanrahan, Jiath, Walker and Koschitzke because of the hold-up on list sizes.
Out of contract: Toby Bedford, Mitch Brown, Kade Chandler, Mitch Hannan, Michael Hibberd, Marty Hore, Jayden Hunt, Nathan Jones, James Jordon, Jay Lockhart, Oscar McDonald, Aaron Nietschke, Charlie Spargo, Jack Viney
There are some interesting names on this list – none more so than former captain Viney, a restricted free agent who is drawing interest from the likes of Geelong. Fritsch has long been close to committing to a new two-year deal and that is now official. It's still unclear what will happen with Jones, but Harley Bennell's COVID-19 breach and subsequent retirement might help his cause. Hibberd, Hunt, Hannan, Lockhart, McDonald and Spargo all had extended senior stints this year, but also time out of the side. Hibberd will look for another multi-year deal after a solid campaign down back, but McDonald is still waiting for an offer. Two-gamer Bedford will likely remain a Demon, but rival clubs are sniffing around, while Melbourne guaranteed dual knee victim Nietschke a 2021 deal after his second setback and it's followed through on that promise. Harry Petty's season ended early with groin surgery, but he's inked a new two-year deal, as has emerging midfielder Tom Sparrow. Defender Joel Smith is locked in for next year.
Out of contract: Jed Anderson, Ben Brown, Taylor Garner, Kyron Hayden, Matt McGuinness, Kayne Turner, Ed Vickers-Willis, Will Walker
It's absolute carnage at Arden St as the Roos embark on an aggressive reset. They already cut 11 players, made Brown available for trade and encouraged Shaun Higgins to explore a better deal elsewhere. Jared Polec could be in a similar boat. As for the uncontracted crew, Anderson is nearing an agreement after a good solo campaign. The wait on list sizes is playing a role in the situation for Garner, Vickers-Willis, Walker and McGuinness, but Turner has an offer in front of him. Hayden is nearing a new deal.
Out of contract: Brad Ebert, Martin Frederick, Jarrod Lienert, Jake Patmore, Cam Sutcliffe, Boyd Woodcock
The Power is incredibly organised for a minor premier with a flag assault in mind. Frederick and Patmore survived the first cut, but won't remain with the team in the finals and are vulnerable. Lienert is on track for a one-year deal that will probably include a trigger for 2022, while Sutcliffe is a solid veteran who wouldn't cost Port much to retain. Woodcock is likely to score another year, while Ebert will make a call on his future at season's end.
Out of contract: Jake Aarts, Nathan Broad, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Derek Eggmolesse-Smith, Luke English, Ryan Garthwaite, Bachar Houli, Oleg Markov, Ben Miller, Toby Nankervis, Marlion Pickett, Fraser Turner
Broad, Houli and Nankervis have generated the most media coverage, with all being either linked to other clubs or considered a trade target. Nankervis told AFL.com.au he wanted to stay at Tigerland, and his internal value soared when Ivan Soldo suffered an ACL rupture. Callum Coleman-Jones' suspension could be another factor, too. Top-20 pick Collier-Dawkins is yet to debut in his first two seasons but is set to score a two-year extension, while Aarts is discussing a deal of the same length. Markov and Eggmolesse-Smith have emerged this year as players of interest to other clubs. Grand Final hero Pickett and the others must wait for the list sizes decision.
Out of contract: Ryan Abbott, Sam Alabakis, Logan Austin, Jack Bell, Jack Bytel, Jake Carlisle, Oscar Clavarino, Nick Hind, Doulton Langlands, Jack Lonie, Jonathon Marsh, Jack Mayo, Matthew Parker, Ben Paton, Ed Phillips, Shane Savage
There are some eye-catching Saints still without a deal. Carlisle, Lonie, Paton, Bytel and Savage, who played just once this season after being a senior staple until 2020, are among them. Paton's been in discussions for a new contract for a while and is close to re-signing. Lonie's been linked with a move to the Western Bulldogs and is part of a small forward market that has many suitors. Hard-running Phillips is also attracting some rival interest, while developing defender Clavarino is yet to break through for a senior game but has impressed with his attitude and form at the lower level. Hind's line-breaking ability makes him a wanted commodity.
Out of contract: Joel Amartey, Zac Foot, Robbie Fox, Michael Knoll, Matthew Ling, Jack Maibaum, Hayden McLean, Lewis Melican, Harry Reynolds, Ben Ronke, Brady Rowles, Ryley Stoddart, Jackson Thurlow, Sam Wicks
Melican is the player of most interest here. He had injury issues this year, but has proven himself capable of being a key defender at AFL level and has external admirers if a deal isn't locked away at the Swans. Ling finally broke through for his senior debut after a wretched run before that, and Sydney will want to retain him after being patient. The Swans are in the market for a big man, so it remains to be seen whether that impacts on Knoll and McLean. Foot impressed enough to play his first AFL game this year, but they have a lot of depth at his position. Ronke's name has come up in the small forward sweepstakes, while Stoddart is in discussions for a new deal.
Out of contract: Brendon Ah Chee, Brayden Ainsworth, Hamish Brayshaw, Shannon Hurn, Mark Hutchings, Lewis Jetta, Jamaine Jones, Josh Kennedy, Mitch O'Neill, Nicholas Reid, Anthony Treacy, Nathan Vardy, Daniel Venables, Jake Waterman, Francis Watson
Andrew Gaff is believed to have triggered another four years on his deal to remain an Eagle until 2024, while Kennedy is keen to play next season after previously contemplating retirement. Fellow premiership player Will Schofield will retire at season's end, but Hurn is close to finalising a new one-year deal. Harry Edwards quietly agreed to a fresh two-year contract earlier in the year, while Luke Foley and Xavier O'Neill will both be at West Coast in 2021. Negotiations are ongoing with Waterman, who's been a good contributor either side of breaking a hand in mid-August. Hutchings didn't reach his contract trigger and will have to wait to find out his fate, much like Jetta and Ah Chee. Ex-Cat Jones is a chance of going around again. Venables sat out the season because of ongoing concussion issues, while Vardy could feature in the ruck market.
Out of contract: Ben Cavarra, Taylor Duryea, Ryan Gardner, Billy Gowers, Fergus Greene, Will Hayes, Lin Jong, Buku Khamis, Brad Lynch, Callum Porter, Roarke Smith, Matthew Suckling, Jordon Sweet, Jackson Trengove, Lachie Young
The Dogs are in good list shape, with their top priorities already locked away. Easton Wood has agreed to a two-year deal, but it's yet to be officially announced. Duryea and Gardner are expected to score new contracts, while Young is a required player as well. Jong and Khamis have both changed management groups as they weigh up their future. Lynch last played in round 23, 2018 and had soft-tissue injuries in the following pre-season, but has been fit ever since. He displayed some good form two years ago and will hope that is remembered.