Every Thursday AFL.com.au presents Inside Trading, with breaking news and the best analysis of the player movement landscape covering contracts, trades, free agents, the NAB AFL Draft and industry insights.
THIRD TIME THE CHARM FOR FREEMAN?
FORMER St Kilda and Collingwood midfielder Nathan Freeman has thrown his hat in the ring for another shot at an AFL career, nominating for the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft.
The 25-year-old ball-magnet has been blitzing the VFL with Frankston so far this season, averaging 41 disposals a game across the first five rounds.
It has seen AFL clubs closely monitor his form as he highlights his midfield prowess at state league level.
TRADE HUB All the latest player movement news
Freeman, who has entered the player management industry working with leading agency Connors Sports Management, had been weighing up whether to nominate for the mid-season intake as his role with the company grows.
However a club will now be able to add him to their list at the June 2 mid-season draft with the view he can step into the top level ready to play.
Freeman was a top-10 draft pick in 2013 but his career was cruelled by hamstring injuries. He played two games for the Saints in 2018 before being delisted at the end of that season. - Callum Twomey
MIDFIELD GUN YET TO START TALKS
ESSENDON is yet to open discussions on a new deal for Darcy Parish, who is in career-best form since his permanent move to the midfield.
Parish, who continued his hot streak with 39 disposals, one goal and 10 clearances in Sunday's win over Fremantle, falls out of contract at the end of this season, with negotiations likely to take place deeper into the second half of the season.
The 23-year-old has boosted his stocks since being afforded more midfield time in the wake of Essendon's injuries earlier this season, with the Geelong Falcons product claiming the Anzac Day Medal in round six with a career-high 42 disposals, two goals and nine clearances.
Parish sits 10th in the competition for total disposals (261 at an average of 29 a game) and third in the AFL for clearances and centre clearances. He has previously been used in a mix of roles across half-forward, the wing and midfield.
It means the Bombers have not started contract talks on their most important midfield pair, with star free agent Zach Merrett delaying his call on his future until later in the year as he weighs up his options.
Merrett would likely be leading the Bombers' best and fairest after nine rounds with Parish next in line as the club beds down its game plan under new coach Ben Rutten.
Merrett has claimed two Crichton Medals in his career, with Parish's sixth-placed finish last season his best result. – Callum Twomey
RICHMOND YOUNGSTER ON SUNS' RADAR
THE TIGERS face a task of holding off rivals interested in young big man Callum Coleman-Jones, with Gold Coast among the clubs tracking the 21-year-old.
Coleman-Jones, who is on the cusp of a senior recall after a five-goal haul in the VFL last week, has played only one AFL game since he was drafted by the club in 2017.
He has knocked back overtures from Greater Western Sydney in the past, and has clubs searching for readymade ruckmen closely following his form this season, including the Suns.
Gold Coast's ruck depth has been hit this season with injuries, with the club looking at bolstering that department at the mid-season draft next month if the right option is available.
Despite reports, the Suns have not put forward an offer to Essendon ruckman Nick Bryan, who recently debuted and is out of contract this season.
Coleman-Jones has been playing key position at VFL level but is viewed as a ruckman-in-waiting at Punt Road, with coach Damien Hardwick last week admitting the exciting talent had deserved more senior opportunities but the Tigers hadn't wanted to adjust their talls structure.
The South Australian's one senior game came in 2019, however he played in the pre-season competition this year while serving his 10-game suspension for breaking COVID-19 protocols last year while in Queensland. – Callum Twomey
FROM VOLLEYBALL TO THE AFL?
CARLTON VFL ruckman and ex-volleyballer Alex Mirkov has been given special exemption to nominate for the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft as the Blues ponder his future prospects.
The 210cm beanpole is in consideration to be taken by the Blues in a move that would add to their ruck stocks that were left to only Marc Pittonet and Tom De Koning for 2021 following the retirement of Matthew Kreuzer last year.
Mirkov, 21, is one of more than a dozen players who have been granted permission to nominate for next month's draft having not nominated for last year's NAB AFL Draft.
Rules state that for a player to be eligible they must have been overlooked in the most recent national draft or previously been on an AFL list. Those who officially 'retire', such as Geelong champion Gary Ablett, however, must wait more than 12 months to enter.
Tyler Roos, the son of AFL great Paul, has also won approval by the League after living overseas last year and not lodging paperwork for the 2020 NAB AFL Draft. The 25-year-old is playing VFL for North Melbourne this season and had 43 disposals in round two.
Mirkov is seen as a raw prospect having moved to football to play for Old Ivanhoe in the Victorian Amateurs two years ago after a junior career in volleyball. He has played two matches for the Blues' reserves this season and registered 36 hitouts against Brisbane in round two.
The Blues have the option of taking two picks in the Mid-Season Draft given the season-ending ACL injuries to Caleb Marchbank and David Cuningham.
Meantime, Gold Coast is likely to select former Sydney ruckman Michael Knoll in the June 2 draft to fill a void in its decimated big man stocks.
The 28-year-old, who has recently met with the Suns, would become the first two-time Mid-Season draftee, having been selected by the Swans in 2019. Standing 205cm, Knoll is playing for Norwood in the SANFL this season and impressed in the state game against the WAFL last week.
Ex-Geelong and Port Adelaide forward/ruck Wylie Buzza is another player on the Suns' radar with ruckmen Jarrod Witts and Matt Conroy out for the season and tall Sam Day sidelined for at least the next month. – Mitch Cleary
THE FUTURE OF THE BOMBERS' FORWARD LINE
EXCITING second-year forward Harrison Jones is putting the finishing touches on a new two-year deal with Essendon that is set to be announced inside the next fortnight.
Jones, 20, will extend until 2023 after playing all nine games to start his debut AFL campaign.
The 196cm developing tall kicked the opening two goals in the Bombers' win over Fremantle on Sunday to take his tally to 10 for the season.
BROWNLOW PREDICTOR Who's leading the race for Charlie?
He is seen as a key cog in the future of the Bombers' forward line that also has Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Peter Wright signed until 2022 and 2023.
Jake Stringer, 27, remains without a deal beyond this season, however both parties are comfortable to progress negotiations in the second half of the year.
Veteran Cale Hooker, who has booted 22 majors this season, is expected to soon indicate his desire to play on in 2022, however meaningful contract talks are yet to begin. – Mitch Cleary
YOUNG PUP POISED FOR EXTENSION
THE WESTERN Bulldogs have opened contract talks with young midfielder Riley Garcia after an interrupted start to his AFL career.
Garcia, who was recruited with pick No.62 in the 2019 NAB AFL Draft, is yet to debut after rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in July of his draft year.
The hard-working Swan Districts product was then hit with a setback in his recovery last December, undergoing arthroscopic surgery on the same knee.
The Bulldogs, however, are convinced they have a talent and are poised to re-sign Garcia, who is managed by Hemisphere's Tom Seccull.
The 177cm midfielder is tough and has speed, energy, and an excellent workrate that the Bulldogs believe could be suited to a forward role early in his career.
He has impressed as a team player in four VFL games this season, averaging 22 disposals mixing his time between the midfield and forward line after opening the season with 24 disposals and nine clearances. – Nathan Schmook
LEAGUE LIST MANAGEMENT BOSS DEPARTS FOR HAWTHORN
THE AFL is searching for a new head of list management and game analysis after Josh Vanderloo announced his departure for Hawthorn.
Vanderloo, who has worked at the AFL for more than a decade, has taken on a role on the Hawks' executive as the general manager of operations and special projects under chief executive Justin Reeves.
He is expected to play a key role in the club's upcoming relocation to Dingley after the departure of chief operating officer Tim Silvers to Adelaide as the Crows' new CEO.
Vanderloo, who had replaced long-time player movement and TPP guru Ken Wood in the top seat in November, will remain at the AFL until after the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft which he will oversee in 2021. – Mitch Cleary