Every Thursday AFL.com.au presents Inside Trading, with breaking news and the best analysis of the Continental Tyres AFL Trade Period covering contracts, re-signings, free agents, the NAB AFL Draft and industry insights.
SUNS EYE BORN-AGAIN SAINT
GOLD Coast has in-form St Kilda midfielder Luke Dunstan on its radar, with the unrestricted free agent reviving his career with a run of standout games.
The Suns, who are prioritising key forward support in the upcoming off-season, are understood to have expressed interest in Dunstan, who remains out of contract.
Dunstan's career at the Saints looked all but certain to be over earlier this season when he kept out of the senior team with his contract expiring at the end of this year however his run of form has been crucial for the club’s turnaround.
After playing one game last season, Dunstan featured in just one of the first 10 rounds of this season before re-emerging in the midfield for round 11.
He has collected 25 disposals or more in each of his seven games since, including a best-on-ground showing against Richmond in round 15 when he gathered 32 disposals, 10 clearances and a goal to claim the Ian Stewart Medal in a hard-edged showing.
The 26-year-old is an unrestricted free agent, meaning he could walk to the club of his choice with the Saints having no ability to match a free agency bid.
AFL.com.au's Inside Trading revealed in May the Suns' interest in Richmond key forward Callum Coleman-Jones, who has a host of suitors and remains unsigned for 2022. – Callum Twomey
CROWS TABLE OFFER TO CROUCH
ADELAIDE has presented a contract offer to restricted free agent Matt Crouch as he looks to return to the top level in coming weeks.
The Crows are understood to have offered a multi-year deal to Crouch, believed to be two or three years, indicating they want to keep the prolific midfielder.
Rival clubs have believed that Crouch would be open to suitors however his groin troubles this season have made it difficult for them to get a gauge on his worth on the marketplace. He had held off discussions while working back to full fitness.
Crouch has been dogged by persistent groin troubles in 2021 that saw him undergo surgery, however he returned at SANFL level last weekend and gathered 28 disposals and eight clearances in his bid to get back into the senior team before the end of the season.
His brother Brad departed Adelaide last year as a restricted free agent which saw the Crows get a compensation selection (originally No.23) which they used on Sam Berry at the NAB AFL Draft.
Adelaide would also get the option of matching a bid for Matt this season should he take a rival free agency offer.
The 26-year-old has been a key member of the Crows' midfield since he joined the club at the end of 2013, playing 125 games and being a Therabody AFL All-Australian and best and fairest winner in Adelaide's 2017 Grand Final season. – Callum Twomey
STAR SAINT KEEN TO STAY
PRELIMINARY discussions have started on a new deal for Jack Billings, with the St Kilda restricted free agent understood to be keen to remain at the Saints.
The Saints, too, have indicated their desire to retain Billings although contract talks had been put on the backburner as the 25-year-old got back into form after playing through injury this season.
TRADE HUB All the latest player movement news
Billings, who has generally waited until deeper into his out-of-contract years before re-signing, is one of the most interesting players remaining in the free agency pool.
The former No.3 pick has been a mainstay for the Saints since joining the club and has played 142 games, including 16 this season. This year he has averaged 20 disposals and nearly a goal a game while carrying a plantar fascia injury that has at stages required injections to be managed.
The classy left-footer has played largely on the wing and across half-forward in a challenging campaign for the Saints, and he enjoyed one of his standout games of the season against Brisbane in round 17 with 24 disposals and a goal.
As a restricted free agent, the Saints could match a rival's bid for Billings if a deal was not achieved at St Kilda and force a trade, however they would also be able to secure a free agency compensation pick if he departed.
Rival clubs believe Billings would land the Saints a similar compensation pick for which Adelaide gained for losing Brad Crouch last season (a second-round selection).
Seb Ross and Luke Dunstan are unrestricted free agents at St Kilda, with Jarryn Geary, James Frawley, Shaun McKernan and Mason Wood also among the free agents at the club without deals for 2022. – Callum Twomey
AMARTEY PARTY TO CONTINUE
THE 'AMARTEY Party' has further reason to celebrate, with emerging Sydney ruckman Joel Amartey set to sign a new two-year deal.
Amartey has been a revelation for the Swans in the second half of this season, with the 21-year-old playing the past six games and impressing with his athleticism.
The Sandringham Dragons product is understood to be closing in on a deal that would tie him to Sydney until the end of 2023.
Amartey has become the latest in Sydney's run of late draft and rookie recruiting successes, having been selected at No.28 in the NAB AFL Rookie Draft at the end of 2017.
Other triumphs from the rookie list currently at the Swans include co-captain Dane Rampe, prolific defender Jake Lloyd and match-winning forward Tom Papley.
Amartey spent three years on the Swans' rookie list and made his AFL debut last year but has flourished this season since entering the side as a support for Tom Hickey, playing as a forward/ruck.
He booted two goals from 12 disposals in the Swans win over West Coast in round 16 before soccering through a clever goal the following week against the Western Bulldogs that was celebrated by his friends and family in the crowd who have become a fixture at Melbourne-based Swans games in the 'Amartey party' group. – Callum Twomey
VETERAN TO CONTINUE DOGS' SIGNING SPREE
THE WESTERN Bulldogs will move to lock away defender Taylor Duryea before the end of the season after a faultless 2021 campaign.
The 30-year-old free agent has played all 17 games this year and proven a rock for Luke Beveridge in defence.
Duryea was made to wait until November last year to sign on for 2021 after being restricted to three games due to a series of groin and quad setbacks.
However, his form this time around has warranted a fresh one-year deal that is expected to be sealed in coming weeks.
A dual premiership player with Hawthorn, Duryea qualifies as a free agent for life having moved to the Dogs as a free agent at the end of 2018.
The Dogs this week locked away first-round pick Cody Weightman until the end of 2023, while Louis Butler and Riley Garcia recently inked one-year deals.
Duryea's signature will leave Mitch Wallis, Lin Jong, Patrick Lipinski, Ed Richards and Zaine Cordy among other Dogs out of contract heading into 2022. – Mitch Cleary
GUELFI TO WAIT ON DEAL
ESSENDON midfielder Matt Guelfi will have to wait until the end of the season before being offered a new contract despite being a senior regular this year.
The versatile Guelfi has played in 15 games (including three as the starting medical substitute) and impressed in Sunday's win over North Melbourne with 17 disposals and a goal.
TRADE HUB All the latest player movement news
However, the 23-year-old is unlikely to know about his future until the end of Essendon's season after its re-contracting spree that saw them sign Zach Merrett, Darcy Parish and Mason Redman to new deals and with a three-year tenure for match-winner Jake Stringer.
Guelfi has been a late pick success story for the Bombers after being selected with selection No.76 in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft. Now into his fourth season, the hard-working Bomber has notched 58 games playing a variety of roles.
He is one of more than a dozen Bombers without deals beyond 2021, with veteran pair Cale Hooker and David Zaharakis among them. Coach Ben Rutten said this week a decision on Hooker's future will be made in consultation with the key forward.
Martin Gleeson, Patrick Ambrose and Dylan Clarke are also unrestricted free agents at Essendon, while Andrew Phillips, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, Tom Cutler, Ned Cahill, Lachie Johnson and Tom Hird are also out of contract at Essendon. – Callum Twomey
AFL ON SEARCH AGAIN FOR LIST MANAGEMENT BOSS
THE WESTERN Bulldogs have poached the AFL's newly appointed head of list management and game analysis Kon Karavias.
Karavias, who has spearheaded the League's strategy team, took on the job last month following the departure of Josh Vanderloo to Hawthorn as its general manager of operations and special projects.
However, the Bulldogs have swooped on Karavias, who has taken on the position as the club's chief commercial and strategy officer.
The League's list management role is a crucial position in connecting with the clubs and being central to decisions and rules around the trade, free agency and draft landscape.
The AFL also hopes to expand the player movement market and has regularly discussed the concept of a mid-season trade period. It has also opened applications for its general manager of football operations job which was vacated by Steve Hocking. – Callum Twomey