ST KILDA players were surveyed with options before agreeing to a full playing list pay cut of seven per cent as the Saints manage the salary cap changes for 2021.

But the Saints don't expect it to impinge on their active approach at the trade and free agency table, having been busy in the past two off-seasons poaching rivals. 

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In similar fashion to players at West Coast, which revealed last week had undertaken a seven per cent pay decrease for this season, the Saints also accepted the same flat fee to share the cap reduction this year.

The AFL last year dropped the salary cap by nine per cent to $13.17 million per club after the COVID-19 impact on the game but, with list reductions, the average player salary dropped by just 3.5 per cent.

However it was left for clubs to set how they worked through the new pay model, with some back-ending key players' deals to get under the revised cap this year, while others have pushed for across the board hits to ensure the financial damage is sorted within a single season.

Some clubs, who were already under the new salary cap figure, have not had to propose contract rearrangements for players. 

After a recruiting spree that has seen them net Dan Hannebery, Bradley Hill and Brad Crouch on long-term deals over the past three successive exchange periods, the Saints put a range of options on the table to their group after strong conversations within the players about possible pay cuts. 

The unanimous agreement between the players, agents and list manager James Gallagher saw the Saints agree to double the average salary cut in 2021 to protect future years from also being impacted. 

The Eagles and Saints were among the first clubs to adopt the salary cap changes, with the AFL recently granting extra time for clubs to get their books in order.  


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St Kilda won the battle for free agent Crouch last year and also traded in Jack Higgins from Richmond, having picked up five players – Hill, Paddy Ryder, Dan Butler, Dougal Howard and Zak Jones – in the 2019 trade period.

The club will continue to be on the lookout for talent again throughout 2021, having last year returned to the finals for the first time since 2011. 

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Midfielders Jack Billings, Seb Ross and Luke Dunstan are among the Saints' free agents this season, as well as veteran defender Jarryn Geary

The Saints' out of contract top-10 picks from 2017 – Hunter Clark and Nick Coffield – are both priority re-signings after impressive campaigns last year.