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.
GIANTS START TALKS ON LIVEWIRE FORWARD
GREATER Western Sydney has opened contract discussions with Bobby Hill’s management to secure the emerging talent beyond the end of 2022.
Hill is already tied to the club until the end of next year, which will be his fourth season at the Giants, but in a sign of their belief in his talent the club has started discussions on a contract extension.
The 21-year-old played 13 games across his first two seasons with the club, including their 2019 preliminary final win over Collingwood, and he played the Giants’ first 16 games of this season.
The livewire small forward kicked 13 goals in that time before heading back to Sydney to be with his pregnant partner.
The West Australian was drafted by the Giants with pick No.24 in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft and is the cousin of brothers Stephen Hill at Fremantle and Bradley Hill at St Kilda. – Callum Twomey
PORT KEEN TO LOCK IN BUTTERS
PORT Adelaide will look to sign gun youngster Zak Butters to a new deal this year before he falls out of contract in 2022.
Butters is one of the competition's brightest young talents and is already perhaps Port Adelaide's most pivotal player in just his third AFL season.
The club is in regular dialogue with Butters' management over his next deal and will look to extend his stay at Alberton Oval before entering next year.
Discussions on a deal beyond the end of 2022 had been held off while Butters returned from what was a concerning nerve injury in his knee earlier this year that stemmed from the same incident he injured his syndesmosis ankle ligament in round four.
He missed 13 weeks after Port took a cautious approach with his recovery but with the 20-year-old back now to some of his best form following another minor knee issue, the club will prioritise Butters' signature.
The Vic Metro product joined the Power with pick No.12 at the 2018 NAB AFL Draft and has quickly risen to prominence with his class, vision, tenacity and goal sense. Last year he was named in the Therabody AFL All-Australian squad of 40 and also finished fourth in the Power's best and fairest.
Clubs have started to lock in players from Butters' stellar 2018 draft class, with Max King penning a four-year extension earlier this year even though he was not out of contract until 2022.
Carlton, too, is keen to lock down star midfielder and Brownlow Medal chance Sam Walsh while Jye Caldwell, pick No.11 in that draft, joined Essendon on a four-year deal during last year's Trade Period so is tied to the Bombers until the end of 2024. – Callum Twomey
YOUNG GIANT PONDERS NEXT MOVE
GREATER Western Sydney forward Jake Riccardi is weighing up whether to accept a contract offer from the Giants or explore his options elsewhere.
The Giants have been in discussions with Riccardi and his management for several weeks and have tabled a fresh deal for him to stay, however he is yet to commit to signing.
Riccardi emerged at AFL level with five games in the second half of last season but has been reduced to seven matches (including one as the sub) across this year.
The 21-year-old remains stuck behind Harry Himmelberg and recruit Jesse Hogan in attack and was even trialled in defence after a shift in the club's coaching panel heading into 2021.
He has kicked 18 goals from six VFL games this year including a bag of eight majors in round nine against Aspley.
Given the lack of young key forwards on the market, suitors in Riccardi's home state of Victoria are expected to closely track his end to the season.
Riccardi is seen as a long-term prospect at the Giants having been picked up as a mature-age draftee in 2019.
"In terms of Jake and his progression, (we're) obviously really happy as a second-year key forward," recruiting boss Adrian Caruso told the Road to the Draft podcast last week.
"He probably burst onto the scene a bit last year and we were rapt with that, but he's probably gone through some challenges this year and he's developing away in the VFL.
"He's working on some parts of his game that are going to hold him in good stead in the long run.
"That's what we've tried to do this year, not fast-track him or anything because of how he played last year or because we might've needed that in our team this year, it's more, 'Let's look long-term with Jake and have an approach that's going to help him three, four, five years down the track'."
Riccardi won the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal in 2019 as the best young talent in the VFL after 38 goals for Werribee. – Mitch Cleary
BREAKOUT HAWK'S REWARD FOR CAREER TURNAROUND
LESS than 12 months after fearing for his football future, Hawthorn forward Dylan Moore is poised to clinch a new multi-year deal.
The Hawks have started talks on a fresh contract extension that is set to keep Moore at Waverley Park for at least the next two seasons.
Moore was delisted at the end of last year and up for grabs for rival clubs after 10 games in three seasons for the Hawks.
After admitting he contemplated whether the curtain would be drawn on his career late last season, Moore was placed back on the club's rookie list on a one-year deal in December.
The 22-year-old committed to an intense pre-season training block that has seen his form explode in 2021 as one of only six Hawks to play every game.
His 25 goals for the season have been bettered only by triple premiership hero Luke Breust at the Hawks.
Incoming senior coach Sam Mitchell is expected to have a large say on the make-up of the Hawks' list heading into the off-season with Tim O'Brien, Daniel Howe and James Cousins among other players out of contract. – Mitch Cleary
IMPROVED EAGLE YET TO START TALKS
WEST Coast is yet to open contract talks with young tall Jarrod Brander, making his future at the club unclear as the end of the season approaches.
Brander was arguably the Eagles' most improved player in the first half of the season, playing a career-high nine games as a hard-running wingman and establishing himself in the Eagles' best team.
He has since been interrupted by a back injury and played one game since round 11, returning to the WAFL, where he had 33 disposals and 13 marks as a defender on the weekend.
The 22-year-old had engaged in promising conversations around his future with West Coast earlier in the season, but contract negotiations were never launched.
Settling into a role in the senior team had contributed to a growing sense that the talented fourth-year tall would remain at the club beyond 2021 after struggling to secure key position opportunities.
The club's position on Brander, however, is no longer clear, with other key deals still to be finalised.
Premiership defender Liam Duggan is understood to be on track to sign beyond this season, while the Eagles are in negotiations to extend much-improved defender Josh Rotham.
Senior midfielder Jack Redden and promising half-back Luke Foley are other key Eagles yet to announce extensions beyond this season. – Nathan Schmook
LUCKLESS SAINTS VETERAN TO GO ON
ST KILDA co-captain Jarryn Geary is edging towards a one-year deal to extend his career into 2022.
The Saints and Geary's management are close to finalising a new contract that will see the 33-year-old enter a 16th season with the club.
Geary has played just three games this year after a fractured fibula sustained over summer delayed his start to the season before he was sent for what is expected to be season-ending shoulder surgery after a setback in June.
However, he has remained a walk-up starter under Brett Ratten when fit and his leadership, competitiveness and professional standards remain key factors in developing the club's playing list.
Geary has filled several positions over the past two seasons including his traditional defensive role and has been deployed as a forward to limit the opposition's best half-backs.
After four seasons as a standalone captain, he was joined by gun midfielder Jack Steele in a co-captaincy position this year.
Geary has played a key role in mentoring Steele's rise as a leader, and it remains to be seen if the pair will share the mantle in 2022 or if Steele is ready to assume sole responsibility.
The future of fellow veteran Jake Carlisle remains up in the air with no contract offer as yet, while Paddy Ryder is expected to extend his stay at RSEA Park for one more season.
Preliminary discussions have started on a new deal for restricted free agent Jack Billings who is understood to be keen to remain at the club. – Mitch Cleary
SWAN CAUGHT IN TRIGGER UNCERTAINTY
CLUBS are pushing for an answer on whether medical substitutes who are unused will count towards games-based trigger contracts.
They believe that the AFL is likely to indicate that all games by medical substitutes, regardless of them taking the field, will count towards trigger clauses being activated but no concrete ruling has been confirmed as clubs look for clarity.
Sydney's James Bell is in that category, with the Swans forward reaching his trigger for a one-year extension for 2022.
Bell has played 11 games this season, three of which have been as the unused medical substitute. He has played the Swans' past seven games as a member of their starting side.
The 22-year-old attracted interest from Collingwood previously but stuck with the Swans, where he was a product of the Swans' Academy.
The Swans have a number of out-of-contract players who are attracting interest elsewhere, with No.5 draft pick Dylan Stephens linked to the Magpies. Jordan Dawson also has suitors, with AFL.com.au revealing Adelaide's interest in May, although rivals expect him to remain with Sydney. – Callum Twomey
IS FREE AGENT HAWK THE NEXT SCHACHE?
THE SUCCESSFUL reinvention of Josh Schache as a full-time defender over the last fortnight has clubs weighing up the possibility of plucking more uncontracted key forwards and turning them into backline interceptors.
Hawthorn forward Tim O'Brien is one player that multiple clubs have this week raised as the next potential candidate to be turned into a permanent defender, with the 94-game Hawk set to hit the free agency market at season's end.
O'Brien, who is facing an uncertain future at Hawthorn, has kicked just 12 goals from 16 games so far this season. However, despite his inconsistencies in front of the target, the athletic 193cm prospect has continually impressed in the air.
It's led to a host of clubs scouting the 27-year-old as a potential defensive option for next season, given the limited number of established key position players on the free agency market.
In his ninth season at Hawthorn and set to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end, O'Brien is one of many Hawks players still waiting on a contract offer for 2022.
But the option of a consistent run of football behind the ball could reignite his career elsewhere, with clubs considering whether he could follow in the footsteps of players who have made the switch like Darcy Moore, Robbie Tarrant and Liam Jones.
The Western Bulldogs have enjoyed great success with Schache's recent role change in the wake of Alex Keath's hamstring injury, while Adelaide has also trialled a similar tactic with Billy Frampton over the last month. – Riley Beveridge
DEMONS FATHER-SON PROSPECT EMERGES
MELBOURNE father-son talent Taj Woewodin has emerged to firm as a draftee for this year.
Woewodin, the son of 2000 Brownlow medallist Shane, is eligible to join the Demons as a father-son selection at the end of this year. Shane played 138 games for the Demons between 1997-2002 before playing three seasons with Collingwood.
Taj, 18, is a versatile midfielder who has pushed himself into the West Australian under-19s program after a consistent season with East Fremantle.
"He's going really well for a player who was probably sitting outside of our calculations early in the year. He's showed some terrific improvement over the last month and is a really strong character who is dedicated, professional and works hard," said WA talent manager Adam Jones.
"He's very clean with his ball handling and he’s shown real competitiveness over our trial games. He's also been able to play multiple positions – wing, half-forward, half-back and he’s had an impact in each position.
"Taj has really good skills by foot and he has a good all-round game."
After averaging 22 disposals at colts level this season, Woewodin has been a solid player in Western Australia’s recent under-19 trial games ahead of the national carnival.
The Demons have first access to Woewodin, who is open to moving states to follow his football pathway. Melbourne’s last father-son selection was Billy Stretch in 2014. – Callum Twomey