Jake Kelly during Adelaide's official team photo shoot at West Lakes on February 15, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

ADELAIDE defender Jake Kelly will join Essendon as an unrestricted free agent.

The 26-year-old met with coach Matthew Nicks on Friday and expressed his desire to exercise his options as an unrestricted free agent.

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As revealed by AFL.com.au on Thursday, he has been assessing his options and it is believed Essendon has won the race after preliminary interest from North Melbourne.

As an unrestricted free agent, Kelly will be able to join Essendon when the free agency window opens on October 1. 

Should the deal be substantial enough, the Crows will be compensated with a draft pick.

Jake Kelly dishes off a handball against West Coast in round 18, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

“Jake has made a great contribution to our club over the past eight seasons,” Crows head of football Adam Kelly said.

“He has consistently set high standards on and off the field with his training and preparation.

“We thank him for his service and wish him all the best as he embarks on the next stage of his career.”

Kelly joined the Crows with pick No.40 in the 2014 rookie draft and has played 110 AFL games.