CARLTON'S strategy to lock away emerging stars on long-term deals is set to extend to Sam Walsh with the Blues opening negotiations with the prized No.1 draft pick.
The Blues are considering adding multiple years to Walsh's existing 2020 contract before the season opener against Richmond – a game in which he is poised to debut.
When contacted by AFL.com.au, Walsh's agent Winston Rous of Phoenix Management confirmed he had commenced preliminary conversations with the Blues.
Such a move by Walsh would follow the lead of Paddy Dow, the No.3 pick in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, who put pen to paper on a three-year extension before playing a senior game last year.
Highly skilled midfielder Lochie O'Brien added two years to his draft contract in April last year, while 2015 No.1 pick Jacob Weitering earned a four-year deal after his impressive debut season.
Walsh's professional approach and running capacity has drawn high praise at the Blues this summer with a strong belief he is capable of playing a full season.
STRONGEST MIDFIELDS Every club's engine room ranked
The Blues are hopeful the Geelong Falcons product can form a long-term partnership with Dow, O'Brien, Will Setterfield (2022 contract), Zac Fisher (2021) and Sam Petrevski-Seton (2021).
After offering a seven-year deal to Dylan Shiel only to miss out to Essendon, the Blues ultimately landed Setterfield and Mitch McGovern on four- and five-year deals, respectively.
Blues out of contract at season's end include free agents Ed Curnow, Matthew Kreuzer and Levi Casboult, plus Andrew Phillips, Jack Silvagni and David Cuningham.
Decisions will also need to be made on recruits Michael Gibbons and Matthew Cottrell ,who have been signed on one-year deals through the pre-season supplemental selection period (SSP).
FULL FIXTURE Every round, every game
Gibbons and Walsh are set to be unveiled alongside a host of fresh faces when the Blues host Hawthorn in a scratch match at IKON Park on Thursday afternoon.
The Blues then host Essendon in the opening match of the JLT Community Series on February 28 before a trip to Morwell to face Collingwood on March 11.
Carlton's long-term players
Charlie Curnow – 2023
Mitch McGovern – 2023
Paddy Dow - 2022
Will Setterfield – 2022
Patrick Cripps – 2021
Tom De Koning – 2021
Zac Fisher – 2021
Harry McKay – 2021
Lochie O'Brien – 2021
Sam Petrevski-Seton – 2021
Jacob Weitering – 2021
Sam Docherty – 2020
Matthew Kennedy – 2020
Harrison Macreadie – 2020
Caleb Marchbank – 2020
Lachie Plowman – 2020
Cameron Polson – 2020
Tom Williamson – 2020