Who will be this year's Dylan Shiel?
AT LEAST three 'pre-agents' could be on the move during this year's trade period in another example of the growing list management trend.
Essendon's Orazio Fantasia has nominated Port Adelaide as his preferred new home, St Kilda's Luke Dunstan is on the market and Sydney defender Aliir Aliir is weighing interest from Port Adelaide. All fall out of contract at the end of 2021.
Pre-agents are players who are a year away from becoming free agents, when they will be able to name their new destination without a trade.
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The appeal of clubs in letting go pre-agents lies in forcing a better deal than they otherwise may get through free agency compensation, such as Greater Western Sydney trading Dylan Shiel as a pre-agent in 2018 for two first-round picks when they would only have received one if they had waited an extra year.
There are several key pre-agents this year, including club skippers Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs) and Patrick Cripps (Carlton), as well as Essendon's Zach Merrett, North's Trent Dumont, Richmond trio David Astbury, Kamdyn McIntosh and Nick Vlastuin, St Kilda midfielder Seb Ross and Geelong defender Jake Kolodjashnij. - Callum Twomey
Why clubs will look to hold onto future picks
THERE is growing concern among the competition that a reluctance to exchange future picks could lead to a backlog of uncompleted deals that stagnate throughout the upcoming Trade Period.
AFL.com.au has spoken to a number of clubs and player managers recently, who have all predicted a significant reduction in the number of future picks that will be traded over the coming weeks.
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Although they remain in the dark about final list sizes and the potential number of selections each team can take into this season's draft, there is still a general belief that the overwhelming majority of sides will use fewer selections.
It will subsequently mean that more draft hopefuls will miss their chance later this year and will become eligible to return to talent pathway programs next season, adding to an already strong 2021 NAB AFL Draft crop that has recruiters excited for what's to come.
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However, the expected bumper 2021 draft has been tipped to lead to hesitancy in trading future picks as willingly as in previous years, which has a significant number of teams worried about how deals will eventuate in the upcoming Trade Period.
Clubs have predicted a return of more player-for-player trades as one way of breaking looming deadlocks during the exchange period, but are cautious about the roadblocks that having fewer draft assets could have on impending deals.
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As reported by AFL.com.au on Monday, Gold Coast is considering taking as little as just one live selection into this year's draft as the Suns aim to trade up from pick No.5. - Riley Beveridge
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Lions look to extend top-three duo
BRISBANE has opened talks with highly talented young pair Hugh McCluggage and Cam Rayner about extending their futures at the club, with the Lions hopeful of tying both to long-term commitments before they reach contract years in 2021.
McCluggage has been a revelation since joining Brisbane with pick No.3 in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft, finishing third in the club's recent best and fairest count after a career-best season this year.
Rayner has also taken great strides since he was recruited to the club with the No.1 pick in 2017, kicking 57 goals from his first 63 games with the Lions and settling into a role up forward.
The pair were both recruited out of Victoria, though Brisbane is confident they will extend their current deals over the summer to ensure they remain in Queensland throughout their long-term football careers.
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"I'd like to get a lifetime contract for them if we could," Lions head of football David Noble told Trade Radio.
"We're certainly proactive and that's the way we've tried to play it in the last couple of years. (List manager) Dom Ambrogio has a really clear strategy around advancing our contracts for our young talent going forward.
"It would be fair to say that we've had ongoing conversations with both of their managers in that space. I'm not saying that it's necessarily looming in the next week or two, but we would love to extend those two guys." - Riley Beveridge
Dockers on hold with list size decisions yet to be made
Fremantle pair Lachie Schultz and Brett Bewley are expected to re-sign with the Dockers but remain uncontracted as clubs wait on clarification around list sizes and total player payment details.
It is understood there have been rival enquiries into Schultz as he waits for a new deal.
The small forward played every game in 2020 and was a workhorse in attack, kicking 12 goals and averaging 2.5 tackles.
Bewley, who joined the Dockers as a mature-age recruit, played 12 games and averaged 14.5 disposals rotating through a wing role.
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While the Dockers have not been in a position to move on new deals, it is understood they are keen to retain the pair, who were each recruited from VFL club Williamstown.
The uncertainty around list sizes is also stalling a contract extension for veteran David Mundy, who finished fifth in the Dockers' best and fairest after an outstanding season. - Nathan Schmook
De Goey edging closer to signing for two more years with the Pies
The out-of-contract star forward had been open to offers from other clubs, but is on the verge of formally signing for a seventh and eight season as a Magpies player.
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That would leave De Goey, who kicked 48 goals in 2018, including 12 in that year’s finals series, as a free agent at the end of 2022. - Damian Barrett
In other news
- St Kilda confirmed emerging defender Ben Paton has re-signed for two years
- Melbourne defender Michael Hibberd put pen to paper on an extension for 2021
- Midfielder Xavier O'Halloran committed to Greater Western Sydney for two more seasons with the club announcing the move at the best and fairest on Tuesday night. It ends the run of six players who will walk from the club in the upcoming trade and free agency period.
- Brisbane conceded veteran ruckman Stefan Martin's future at the club was aligned to the outcome of the list sizes and salary cap for 2021.