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.
DOCKER HITS SNAG WITH CONTRACT TRIGGER
FREMANTLE defender Reece Conca appears unlikely to play the two games required to trigger a contract extension after opting out of the Dockers' quarantine bubble this week.
Conca will remain in the community and play for WAFL affiliate Peel Thunder for the next fortnight even though it will make him unavailable for senior selection in that period, given the strict 14-day rules imposed on the Dockers.
It is understood the former Richmond midfielder needs to play two more AFL games to automatically trigger a one-year contract extension with Fremantle, but he will now have limited opportunities to do that with four rounds remaining.
A member of the leadership group in his third season at the Dockers, Conca has been mostly overlooked for selection in the second half of this season, playing the opening nine rounds but only one game since.
The 28-year-old executed several impressive shutdown jobs as a small defender in the first half of the season, most notably on Greater Western Sydney star Toby Greene in round two and Hawthorn forward Luke Breust in round four.
The Dockers have opted for other options in defence, however, and cited the need for Conca to work on aspects of his game at WAFL level.
Coach Justin Longmuir stressed on Thursday that it was "totally inaccurate" to assume Conca was not being selected because of his contract trigger. He said discussions on Conca's future would happen at the end of the season.
Several Dockers recovering from injury will remain outside quarantine for the next fortnight so they can complete their rehab, while young midfielder Nathan O'Driscoll is living under the strict 14-day conditions, making him available to make his AFL debut but ruling him out of WAFL selection. – Nathan Schmook
ROOS EXPLORING DEMONS TALL
NORTH Melbourne is tracking the prospects of the key forward who has lost his spot to former Roos forward Ben Brown at Melbourne.
Sam Weideman sits on the Roos' radar as a potential target at season's end as they weigh up the need for extra support for Nick Larkey in attack.
The Roos have been scouting the out-of-contract Demon throughout a season that has consisted of five AFL games but none since round 13.
It is understood Gold Coast has also shown a level of interest in Weideman.
The 24-year-old booted three goals in each of his last two VFL appearances before the competition pause and has watched Brown get selected for the past three AFL matches alongside youngster Luke Jackson and the rejuvenated Tom McDonald in attack.
Brown, 28, last year crossed to Melbourne on a four-year deal after he was told he was no longer required at Arden Street. The Roos haven't made any form of offer to Weideman but are expected to watch on with interest as the VFL season resumes this weekend.
They have been buoyed by the progression of second-year tall forward Charlie Comben in recent scratch matches having returned from a serious leg injury earlier this month.
The Roos also recruited prized 202cm youngster Jacob Edwards with pick No.1 in June's NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft who is seen as a long-term prospect.
Coach David Noble has opted for a second ruck alongside veteran Todd Goldstein for much of the season with Tristan Xerri and Tom Campbell combining for 15 of the 18 games.
Weideman has been used further up the ground in recent times for Casey, averaging 19 disposals and seven hitouts from his past four matches.
The former first-round pick remains in the Demons' long-term vision and could yet re-sign but is one of several young key forwards currently unsigned heading into 2022.
Others include Richmond's Callum Coleman-Jones who also has interest from Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney's Jake Riccardi. – Mitch Cleary
PIES FACING DELAYS ON SECURING NEW DEALS
COLLINGWOOD midfielder Brayden Sier has joined the growing list of out-of-contract Pies who will be forced to wait until season's end to receive an answer on their future.
Clubs are still waiting for details from the AFL on salary cap and list sizes for next year, while the Pies' search for a new coach has provided an added layer of complexity for decisions on their players.
Sier, 23, played the first five matches of the season but has featured just twice at AFL level since. He could be in line for a recall this weekend against West Coast with skipper and fellow onballer Scott Pendlebury ruled out for the remainder of the season.
The Pies have played nine debutants this season – including two under interim coach Robert Harvey – with Sier reduced to the VFL and scratch matches over the past two months.
Sier had interest from several clubs including Essendon in 2019 before re-signing for two years until 2021.
However, this time around the market for inside midfielders appears stacked full of options given many floated for trade last year were required to return to their original homes.
Veteran Chris Mayne is in a similar situation and will be required to wait until season's end, while talks on an extension for youngster Jay Rantall will pick up at the end of the campaign after a promising introduction at senior level.
Pendlebury will soon clinch a one-year extension, while Max Lynch will be an intriguing watch after impressing while filling Brodie Grundy's void for a fortnight mid-season.
Unsigned tall Mason Cox faces an uncertain future along with Josh Thomas, however Trey Ruscoe and Jack Ginnivan are expected to win new deals. – Mitch Cleary
ERASMUS IN OPEN POOL
MIDFIELD talent Neil Erasmus won't have ties to any club in this year's NAB AFL Draft after West Coast's bid to add him to its Next Generation Academy failed.
Erasmus, who comes from South African descent and plays for Subiaco in the WAFL in the Eagles' NGA zone, was a talented junior cricketer but set his sights on an AFL career after West Coast's involvement in bringing him to the football talent pathway.
However, the Eagles have not been able to list him as a member of their Next Generation Academy after an AFL ruling.
It is highly unlikely West Coast would have had access to Erasmus even if he was a late addition to its NGA program due to the new rules allowing clubs to match NGA bids only after pick 20.
Erasmus, a 188cm midfielder who can also play as a forward, is viewed by many clubs as a potential top-10 pick and the leading prospect in Western Australia. He has averaged 28 disposals in the Colts competition.
There has not been a player named Neil play an AFL game since former Eagle Neil Marshall, who last ran out for West Coast in round 18, 1998. – Callum Twomey
HAWKS' DRAFT FOCUS
WITH coach-in-waiting Sam Mitchell forecasting a rebuild via the NAB AFL Draft and football soft caps set to be slightly boosted for 2022, Hawthorn is positioned to be able to look at adding to its recruiting department.
The AFL last week told club chief executives they were likely to receive an extra $200-250,000 in their football department soft caps for 2022 after they were slashed by more than $3 million last year.
Those cuts were largely felt by assistant and development coaches and recruiting departments around the AFL.
Hawthorn's anointed coaching successor Mitchell has highlighted his club's need to continue to hit the NAB AFL Draft, with the Hawks holding picks No.2, 21 and 22 on the current indicative draft order.
The Hawks were forced to restructure their list management and recruiting team earlier after Graham Wright's departure to Collingwood. Wright had overseen the Hawks' list management while being their football boss.
Hawthorn elevated recruiting manager Mark McKenzie to be its list and recruiting manager, with Next Generation Academy coach Nathan Foley also taking on more recruiting duties.
The Hawks' two first-round picks at the past two drafts – Will Day in 2019 and Denver Grainger-Barras last year – look stars of the future and Mitchell has identified the next two drafts as being crucial to the club's hopes to bounce up the ladder. – Callum Twomey