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MELBOURNE has defended its decision to jettison fan favourite Jack Watts, citing his inconsistency as the reason the forward was sent to Port Adelaide.
A deal was done on Tuesday in a direct swap for No.31 in this year's NAB AFL Draft.
Demons football manager Josh Mahoney said the pressure Watts has been under since being drafted at No.1 in 2008 contributed to his up-and-down form.
"There is no doubt that this has been a difficult decision for the club to make but the list management group felt that Jack's consistency of performance while at Melbourne hasn't been at the level expected of a player with his experience," Mahoney told melbournefc.com.au.
"This may be attributed to the fact that Jack has attracted immense public interest from day one.
"This has no doubt placed an unfair amount of pressure and expectation on Jack throughout his career at Melbourne and both parties feel like a change of environment and a fresh start will be the best thing for Jack's career.
"We know that Jack is a well-liked character but we've based this decision on performance and what is best for both parties.
"While this has been a hard football decision, we have made great strides in rebuilding our playing list and we will continue to make hard decisions to ensure that we take the club to where our supporters want it to be, which is a club capable of sustained success."
Demons fans have taken to social media to voice their anger over the trade.
Melbourne encouraged Watts to explore his options away from the club, despite being contracted until the end of 2019.
He signed a three-year deal in 2016 after putting together a career-best campaign.
However, he had a poor pre-season and was not selected for the first two JLT Community Series games, and was dropped late in the year.
Mahoney paid tribute to Watts.
"I would first like to thank Jack for his contribution to the Melbourne Football Club," Mahoney said.
"He will always be welcomed back to the club as a Melbourne person and we wish him the very best for the future.
"At the end of the year, we had a conversation with Jack regarding his future at Melbourne where we spoke openly about what is best for him and the club.
"We agreed that we would look at our options and we feel this outcome is the best thing for Jack as an individual and that’s why both parties have agreed to the deal."
Watts said he held no ill will against the Demons.
"I want to thank all of the supporters and everyone at the Melbourne Football Club. The supporters have been tremendous to me over the years and I can’t thank them enough," Watts said.
"I have no hard feelings towards the club. I know it's difficult to leave as I have always enjoyed playing for Melbourne but I think a clean break is the best thing for me and I’m looking forward to the next stage of my career.
"I also want to acknowledge and thank all of my teammates who have been awesome to play with. I know the club is on the right path and I wish the boys nothing but success in the future."
Mahoney told NAB AFL Trade Radio he expected a deal to secure homesick youngster Harley Balic from Fremantle would be done on Wednesday for a late draft pick.
The Dees currently hold back-end selections 47, 66 and 84.
Meanwhile, veteran tall Col Garland's career could be over after he missed this season due to a knee reconstruction.
"He's gone through a tough year with an ACL and we'll have something announce there in the short-term," Mahoney said.
He also hinted a contract extension for ruckman Max Gawn, who would become a free agent at the end of 2018, isn't "too far away".
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