JUST four teams remain in 2020 and the player movement space is starting to take shape.
A host of players have made calls on their futures, some are still deciding, while others are waiting for the phone to ring.
Club are still awaiting finalisation on list spots and salary cap figures for next year, but many are signing players to deals that will shift on a percentage basis depending on the cap.
INDICATIVE DRAFT ORDER Your club's picks as they stand
Here's how they sit with less than three weeks to go until deals can be formalised.
The lure of Brisbane's medical team and anonymity in Queensland has driven the restricted free agent to the Lions. It remains unknown as to the exact length of the deal, which will prove a key factor in determining the free agency compensation the Bombers are offered. If it's five years at a healthy pay packet, the Bombers will likely be rewarded with a pick immediately after their first selection (currently No.6). However, anything less and it could be an end-of-first-round pick which may force them to match the Lions' offer and force a trade. As it sits, Brisbane currently has two first-round picks.
Joining Carlton as a midfielder on a long-term deal worth an estimated $800,000 per season. As a restricted free agent, the Giants have the option to match a bid. However, given they're set to receive a first-round compensation pick, expect the 26-year-old speedster to walk to the Blues.
Has committed to Carlton on a five-year deal upwards of $600,000 per season after questioning the direction of the Bombers, his role in defence and the culture of the club. While it might be a touch more money at the Blues, the final offer at the Bombers was also five years was was increased from four. Now the two arch-rivals need to strike a trade. The Blues currently have pick No.7 but it won't be their starting point in negotiations.
The restricted free agent is joining North Melbourne on a long-term contract believed to be more than $600,000 per season. Depending on the length of the deal, it could net Greater Western Sydney an end-of-first-round compensation pick which would be a major bonus.
The 19-year-old has decided to join Adelaide for greater midfield opportunity after 13 games in two seasons at the Giants. His value won't be through the roof, but the Giants will still want to be looked after for a player taken at No.14 in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft. A mid-to-late second-round pick seems the likely middle ground but given the Crows finished last, they have the option of holding the first pick in the pre-season draft if a deal can't be met.
The unrestricted free agent is heading to Gold Coast on a minimum four-year deal valued at around $400,000 per season. It is a major win for the Crows who could receive an end-of-second-round or third-round compensation pick for a player who failed to play after round nine this year.
Despite having two years left on his contract at Melbourne, Preuss wants to join his third club. The ruckman has nominated Greater Western Sydney as his destination of choice after being pushed down the pecking order at the Demons following the arrival of Luke Jackson. Crossing from North Melbourne at the end of 2018 with the promise of partnering Max Gawn, Preuss played 10 times for the Demons including just once this year alongside Gawn. Will likely cost a last second-round or early third-round pick.
Essendon had been bracing for it, and on Monday morning Adelaide let the cat out of the bag. Fantasia officially wants to move back to South Australia. While he's yet to formally tell the Bombers, the Crows and Port Adelaide are now in the hunt to win the injury-plagued forward's services. Fantasia last year backed out of a big offer from the Power and returned to Essendon with two years to run on his contract. Now with one season left on his deal, the Power will let him come to them. The 25-year-old has recently undergone independent medical testing for both clubs in an attempt to allay concerns over his body.
JORDAN DE GOEY
Has made every noise that he wants to stay, but Nathan Buckley's comments following Saturday night's semi-final loss have poured doubt on the star forward's future at the club. De Goey is currently negotiating his future with help from his father and his coach suggested a final decision could come down to money. "Elements of people on his (De Goey's) side would like to see him remunerated as well as he possibly could, and we want him to be rewarded appropriately as well," Buckley said. Given the Pies' tight cap, the 24-year-old will likely need to knock back more cash to stay. But what's the value of loyalty?
All signs still point to the AFL All-Australian centre half-back re-signing and it's a conversation that should ramp up now that the Pies' season is done. With the Pies' cap among the tightest in the competition, Moore would have had bigger offers elsewhere. But he remains settled in black and white and flourishing as one of the best intercepting defenders in the game. Starts next year as a 25-year-old and remains two years off free agency eligibility.
Was always going to have to wait to see where the cards fell with fellow key forwards Joe Daniher and Jeremy Cameron before clubs threw themselves at him. Now that Daniher has made his call, his place in the market should start to become clearer. Melbourne has an interest, St Kilda has inquired and Essendon is another club in need of key forwards. And while Collingwood would be an obvious link, given the Magpies' tight cap and need to re-sign Brody Mihocek, it's hard to see how they have the cash. After knocking back a three-year offer at North Melbourne in March in search of four, Brown has been told he's officially on the table and won't be returning to Arden Street. Other clubs believe he may only be worth an early second-round pick.
Has shown glimpses of his potential that prompted the Giants to select him at No.11 in the star-studded 2018 NAB AFL Draft. Now he's got a decision to make on his future. Caldwell has always been the Giants' highest priority midfield signing (over Jackson Hately and Xavier O'Halloran) and they've now increased their offer to four years. St Kilda has had interest for some time and Brett Ratten flagged the need for extra midfield depth when speaking after Friday night's semi-final exit. The 20-year-old would suit a number of clubs, including Essendon and Hawthorn, too.
Has been offered a three-year deal to stay with the potential of a trigger. But both parties still remain some distance apart on money. Most likely to stay in black and white but will have bigger offers elsewhere. The mature-age recruit, who will win the Pies' goalkicking for a second consecutive year, starts next year at 28 so this contract will be the most important of his career.
On the verge of re-signing on a multi-year deal after a breakout season. The 21-year-old has gone from a fringe forward pocket to one of the club's best ball users and established himself on a wing. With the Pies' cap so tight, his efforts in 2020 will cost the club more than what they would've been forecasting 12 months ago.
Rival clubs felt the out-of-contract dual premiership ruckman was gettable during the middle stages of the season. That all changed when Ivan Soldo – who was closing in on the No.1 ruck mantle at the Tigers – ruptured his ACL in round 17. It leaves Nankervis destined to stay after declaring his want to remain at Punt Road.
Gold Coast appeared his most likely suitor at the midway point of the season, but the Suns' interest has cooled. It has left Broad awaiting a contract offer from Richmond before assessing his options, which could pick up after he forced his way into the Tigers' semi-final line-up. A late starter in the AFL, the 27-year-old dual premiership defender's next contract will be the most important of his career.
The market for midfielders is stacked this year so the Victorian is sitting back waiting for things to unfold elsewhere before making a call. Giants teammate Jackson Hately has selected Adelaide and fellow 2018 first-round draftee Jye Caldwell is undecided on his future. Should Caldwell join Hately out the door, then O'Halloran will receive more opportunities in the Giants midfield. He broke through for two games in 2020 and there will be interest in his home state should he seek a new home.
Will get a minimum one-year deal to stay at the Saints, but will he receive greater security elsewhere? Had a solid final month of the season after forcing his way back into the side but lacked impact in the semi-final. Could another club see the 24-year-old as this year's Dan Butler and take a chance on him with a longer term offer?
Brisbane took a chance on injury-plagued Geelong forward Lincoln McCarthy and turned his career around. Now they look like doing the same with his former teammate. The pair have the same manager, with Cockatoo well aware of Brisbane's exemplary medical history.
Out-of-contract with the Tigers but has interest from Gold Coast to fill a void at half-back. With Pearce Hanley retiring and Jarrod Harbrow entering the twilight of his career, the Suns have identified the need for more depth in defence. Markov, 24, has managed six games this season but been emergency for the past three matches.
Missed St Kilda's semi-final loss to Richmond but his absence shone through as Tom Lynch monstered the Saints' defence. Speaking post-game, coach Brett Ratten gave every suggestion that Carlisle would be offered a new deal to stay for 2021.
Played five of the first six games this year before succumbing to a hamstring injury and later food poisoning and hasn't been seen since. The Cats are waiting on the finalisation of list spots and the salary cap before coming to the party with any offer for the 22-year-old. Has shown enough in 17 AFL games across three seasons to suggest there will be interest elsewhere if that deal isn't forthcoming.
Out-of-contract players expected to re-sign: Jordan Ridley (Essendon), David Mundy (Fremantle), Tom Hawkins, Brandan Parfitt, Zach Tuohy (Geelong), Jed Anderson (North Melbourne).
Said in early July that he was just waiting for the AFL's contract freeze to end and that a new deal at the Giants would quickly follow. However, the freeze was lifted in late July and still Cameron is undecided. Geelong is the leading contender, and its interest will only intensify now that Joe Daniher has chosen the Lions over the Cats. When asked about Jeremy Cameron last week, Geelong coach Chris Scott offered an interesting insight: "People that are trying to make up their minds after their season has finished have a healthy respect for those that are still well and truly in it (finals)." Will only get more intriguing if Cameron doesn't re-sign this week now the Cats have extended their campaign by at least one week.
Remains to be seen exactly how much his recent off-field indiscretion (including two-game suspension for 2021) will hurt his value at his new home. In an ideal world for the Crows, Crouch leaves on a hefty contract and they get a first-round compensation pick (No.2) in return. But that would need to be a five-year deal in excess of at least $700,000 per season. Any less and it's going to be in the realms of an end-of-first-round pick. Geelong has been the leading suitor for some time but expect that chase to progress when the Cats' finals run comes to an end.
Has a one-year contract offer on the table at the Bombers. But if another club came calling with greater security he could be tempted to leave. Now that Adam Saad (Carlton) has joined Conor McKenna (retired) out the door, expect the 26-year-old Gleeson – who is an unrestricted free agent – to be a priority signing in the back half.
Has a two-year offer to stay at Hawthorn but is yet to commit. Admitted on RSN radio late last month he was not "100 per cent sure" as to what his future held. Much-loved at the Hawks but does he see the club heading in a different direction now that Ben Stratton, Paul Puopolo, Ricky Henderson and James Frawley have moved on? Strongest interest from elsewhere has been from Melbourne as they search for another winger. Smith starts next season as a 32-year-old.
Admitted on ABC post-game Friday night there was a "spark" from Essendon after the Bombers came calling last month with the dangling carrot of greater security. The 2019 All-Australian has professed his love for Richmond and is still most likely to stay but is awaiting a contract offer from the Tigers.
Destined to join Geelong on a two-year deal. The Cats offered Higgins three years at the end of 2019 before he decided to stay and commit to the future direction under new coach Rhyce Shaw with an extension to 2021. However, in the space of 12 months, both parties are well aware that direction has shifted, and the 32-year-old has been told he's free to look elsewhere for more security. St Kilda has inquired as it looks to add class to its onball unit, but the Cats are the clear frontrunners.
Still has three years and more than $1.6 million remaining on a hefty front-ended contract he signed when crossing to Arden Street at the end of 2018. Dropped twice this season and questioned over his defensive traits, Polec is free to join a new home should North Melbourne be looked after with adequate picks. No doubt the Roos would have to pay a large portion of his deal if he was to move to a fourth club after previous stints at Brisbane and Port Adelaide.
Out of favour with two years to run on a sizeable contract, Melbourne would have to entertain any offers for the 28-year-old. However, should none be forthcoming, McDonald has vowed to win his spot back at the Demons in 2021. Still managed 53 goals in 2018.
Emergency more than 10 times this year but failed to crack an AFL game as he watched Ben King and Sam Day command the key posts in attack. The 203cm 24-year-old has two years left on a healthy contract that the Suns have said they're "open-minded" to moving on. Now he just needs to find a suitor. Will most likely have to wait until others including Ben Brown settle on destinations.
When contracted Pie James Aish's name was put on the table by Collingwood last year, so too was that of Phillips. Aish accepted a three-year deal at Fremantle but Phillips stayed. Josh Daicos' breakthrough season on a wing pushed Phillips to half-forward through the middle stages of the year before he succumbed to a hamstring injury that cost him the rest of the campaign. With one year left on his deal for 2021, expect the Pies to be open to offers for Phillips should they come this November.
After 44 of a possible 46 games across 2018-2019, the 22-year-old has managed just six this year. The arrival of Grant Birchall and Callum Ah Chee and emergence of Brandon Starcevich have forced Witherden out of Chris Fagan's best side and it has the Lions open to outside offers. The Victorian has two years to run on his contract.
Tried on a wing this season and managed just eight games due to a hip injury and lack of form. Now rival clubs are starting to make inquiries with one year left on his deal. The 195cm swingman, who was taken at No.14 in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, has shown he can play at either end. The Eagles say he's a required player but if a compelling offer came they'd have to take the call.
The third-year mid-forward has been starved of opportunity this year, a situation that will only worsen if Geelong lands Shaun Higgins and Brad Crouch. Still has a year to run on his contract which he could well see out but expect him to be open to a move if another club comes knocking.
Has played 10 games this season but just one since round 15. It has prompted rival clubs to start making inquiries with one season remaining on his current deal at Punt Road. The Tigers have given no indication they'll be willing to listen to offers.
Restricted to just five games this season under new coach Justin Longmuir. It comes after he signed a new deal until 2022 in Ross Lyon's final handful of weeks at the Dockers last year. No serious offers have emerged for Blakely as yet given the depth of inside midfielders on the market, however he'll be one to watch as the Trade Period draws closer.
Like Connor Blakely, will need to see where other inside midfielders fall before serious suitors come for him. Has two years to run on his deal but was limited to a solitary game in 2020 as Matt Rowell, Hugh Greenwood and Noah Anderson came in. The Suns will happily accommodate a cheap move for him elsewhere and would likely pay some of his contract to make it happen.
The inside midfielder is keen to explore his options elsewhere after just two games in 2020. Constable, 21, is well aware he'll be again limited for opportunities in the final season of his contract next year with the Cats targeting rival midfielders and first-round pick Cooper Stephens developing nicely. Will be in a similar spot to Connor Blakely and Will Brodie waiting for the phone to ring.
Has a year to run on his deal at West Coast where he acts as Nic Naitanui's back-up but also part-time ruck coach. The Eagles are keen to retain him but also have Bailey Williams rising through the ranks. Sydney has mild interest but any serious move for Hickey would only come if the Swans miss out on a ruckman in the 22-25-year-old bracket that can grow with their young group.