CLUBS will be afforded extra flexibility when building their 2021 lists after a last-minute allowance communicated by the AFL in a memo on Tuesday night. 

Each club will be permitted to move two players straight from the senior to rookie list for next season after new list constraints and a nine per cent salary cap reduction was confirmed last week. 

It is a change clubs had been calling for in phone hook-ups with the AFL on Monday and will help them through a difficult period managing their salary caps. 

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As has been the case in recent seasons, $80,000 of each standard rookie's contract falls outside the salary cap. Up to six standard rookies are permitted for each club next year. 

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Maximum list sizes have dropped from 47 to 44 next season, inclusive of two Category B rookies who are now eligible to play as part of the revised Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

Previously, Category B rookies needed to be upgraded in order to be selected to play AFL. 

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The minimum list size for 2021 sits at 37, which requires at least 36 senior listed players. 

To reach the maximum of 44 players, clubs can carry between 36 and 38 senior listed players and four to six Category A rookies, plus the two Category B rookies. 


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It is expected most clubs will use up to six Category A rookies to help offset money against their salary cap. 

The first list lodgement for each club is due on Wednesday with the first delisted free agency (DFA) window to run from Thursday to Sunday. 

Players delisted by Wednesday will still be able to get onto another senior list if given the opportunity by a rival club in the DFA window. 

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However, those players being 're-rookied' from their existing clubs will be confirmed as rookies in the second DFA period from December 1-2, therefore avoiding having to go through the NAB AFL Rookie Draft. 

For example, out-of-contract Carlton midfielder Matt Kennedy was delisted from the senior list earlier this month with the promise of being re-rookied by the Blues next season. 

Kennedy will be free to be picked up as a DFA by another club from Thursday. 

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However, under the new rule, he will be able to be confirmed as a rookie for the Blues from December 1 and avoid going into the Rookie Draft on December 10. 

Some players who hold a 2021 contract have been delisted from the senior list with the view to being placed on the rookie list if not snapped up as a DFA, such as Essendon's Dylan Clarke

A player such as Clarke will still receive the contracted amount they were owed in 2021, the only difference being that $80,000 of the contract will fall outside the salary cap. 

Dylan Clarke will be placed on the Bombers' rookie list. Picture: AFL Photos

Clarke follows the same path as Brisbane's Archie Smith and Port Adelaide's Boyd Woodcock who were moved from the senior to rookie list at the end of 2019 despite being contracted for 2020. 

Players cut completely from clubs for 2021 won't have had their fortunes changed even if the new rule had been announced prior to Tuesday night. 

This is because the number of rookie spots has not changed and the likes of Kennedy and Gleeson would have been subjected to the same path without the waiting period. 

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Wednesday, November 25
- List Lodgement 1
- Nomination of Draft Eligible Father/Son Players Lodged
- Nomination of Draft Eligible Northern & NGA Academy Players Lodged

Thursday, November 26
- AFL Delisted Player Free Agency Period (1) Commences

Sunday, November 29
- AFL Delisted Player Free Agency Period (1) Closes 

Monday, November 30
- List Lodgement 2
- Out of Contract Listed AFL Primary List Players Draft Nomination Form and Player Request for Removal from List Form Lodged with AFL
- Final date for Primary List delistings

Tuesday, December 1
- AFL Delisted Player Free Agency Period (2) Commences

Wednesday, December 2
- AFL Delisted Player Free Agency Period (2) Closes 

Thursday, December 3
- AFL Trade Period Closes – Selections Only
- Delisted Primary List Draft Nomination Form Lodgement
- Non–Retained Rookie Players Draft Nomination Form Lodgement
- Final Draft Nomination Form Lodgement 
- AFL Father-Son Bidding Nominations lodged with AFL

Wednesday, December 9 at 7pm AEDT
- NAB AFL Draft

Thursday, December 10 at 12pm AEDT
- NAB AFL Pre-Season & Rookie Draft