CONTRACT CRUNCH (L-R): Josh Thomas, Brayden Sier, John Noble, Mason Cox. Pictures: AFL Photos

MASON Cox has nine weeks to save his AFL career at Collingwood.

The out-of-favour forward is one of 15 Pies without a deal for next season as the Pies transition from life under Nathan Buckley and into the hands of caretaker Robert Harvey this week.

And Cox headlines those out of contract for 2022 facing the most uncertain of futures.

Dropped after round four, the American played four games at VFL level before he was taken to hospital as a precaution for an injured larynx after a training incident in mid-May.

Back fit and available, he was named emergency for Buckley's final game in charge on Monday.

After kicking Collingwood to a Grand Final in 2018, Cox was a first-choice option in 2019 outside of injuries before he was in-and-out at various stages through 2020 and hit a trigger to remain for 2021.

The Pies have preferred Darcy Cameron as their ruck/forward option behind Brodie Grundy since round five and picked up raw forward/ruck Aiden Begg in the mid-season draft earlier in June with hopes he'll be ready for 2022.

They also have young tall Will Kelly waiting in the wings (albeit developing as a defender after starting the year in attack), 19-year-old Liam McMahon and another mid-season prospect in 193cm forward Ash Johnson, who, like Begg, signed an 18-month contract.

Cox will start next season at 31 and has the rest of this year's campaign under new leadership to prove he deserves a fresh contract to play a part in the club's "re-regeneration".

Small forward Josh Thomas is another who remains unsigned for next season as he comes off a three-year deal signed during a career-best 2018.

The 29-year-old has been a favourite of Buckley's in recent years and has played 12 of 13 games this season but like out-of-contract fringe defender Jack Madgen, remains to be seen where he sits in their long-term plans.

Chris Mayne will start next year at 33 with his future plans to be determined over the coming nine weeks, while fellow veteran Levi Greenwood's next steps are clouded as he remains sidelined with concussion symptoms from a heavy hit in round five.

Scott Pendlebury turns 34 next January and could pass the baton as skipper but it remains only a matter of when, not if, he puts pen to paper on an extension.

John Noble, 23, has played all 13 games this season between wing and half-back after missing just two last year and is in line for a multi-year extension.

Talks for new deals for midfield pair Trent Bianco and Jay Rantall are also expected to ramp up inside the next month having broken through for AFL debuts this season. Fellow second-year prospect Trey Ruscoe, who returned to defence at VFL level last month, is also expected to clinch an extension after seven AFL games.

Brayden Sier looms as a curious case coming off a two-year deal, having played seven AFL games this year, two VFL matches and missed a handful through injury. The now 23-year-old broke through under Buckley in 2018 and will be watched closely to see if he's given further opportunities under Harvey.

Ruckman Max Lynch has proven a valuable bargain-basement back-up in recent weeks with Brodie Grundy (neck) out of the side but is also without a 2022 contract.

Rookie pair Jack Ginnivan and Isaac Chugg are both on one-year deals for 2021 with decisions to still come on extending their stays, while the Pies will also need to make a call on developing tall Anton Tohill.

The Irishman reaches his maximum three-year stay on the Category B rookie list this year and will need to be upgraded in order to remain with the club.