ARIEL Steinberg's AFL future is in limbo after Essendon delisted the tall defender for the second time.

The Bombers have cut Steinberg after the maximum three years on the rookie list, but have left the door ajar for the 23-year-old to return after the upcoming NAB AFL Draft.

"Ariel has been listed as a rookie for the past three seasons, and AFL rules stipulate that after three years a player must either be promoted to the senior list or delisted," list and recruiting manager Adrian Dodoro said.

"Subsequently, the club has decided not to promote Ariel onto the senior list at this stage.

"A definitive position on Ariel’s playing future at the football club will be decided following the upcoming draft periods."

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Steinberg was recruited as a forward with pick 31 in the 2010 draft, but was chopped two years later without playing a senior match before finding his way back onto the list via the rookie draft.

The Mildura product was recalibrated as a defender and finally made his long-awaited debut in round 21 last year and played in the Bombers' elimination final loss to North Melbourne.

But the strong-marking 191cm backman couldn't kick on from there to secure his spot at Tullamarine, despite playing seven matches this season.

Steinberg is the fifth Bomber delisted this off-season – following Alex Browne, Elliott Kavanagh, Kurt Aylett and Lauchlan Dalgleish.

Dustin Fletcher, Jason Winderlich and Paul Chapman have retired, while Jake Carlisle (St Kilda), Jake Melksham (Melbourne) and Jonathan Giles (West Coast) have been moved on, clearing the decks for new coach John Worsfold to rebuild the side.

The Bombers have already recruited free agent Matthew Leuenberger from the Brisbane Lions and Craig Bird (Swans), while they hold picks No.4, 5, 24 and 25 at the top end of the upcoming national draft.