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.
CONTRACTED DEMON OPEN TO MOVE
MELBOURNE forward Jake Melksham is open to moving to a third AFL club despite being contracted to the Demons for next year.
Melksham joined the Demons at the end of the 2015 season after being originally a top-10 draft pick at Essendon.
It is understood clubs are aware Melksham, who has played 12 games this season and is contracted at the Demons for 2022, would be open-minded about a switch after being squeezed out of Melbourne's first-choice forward line.
The 30-year-old most recently played in two of the Demons' final three games of the home and away season, kicking three goals across those games, but has not featured in its finals side.
After developing as a midfielder at Essendon, the long-kicking Melksham's best season for the Demons came as a forward in 2018, when he kicked 32 goals. He has been a regular goalkicker throughout his 197-game career, booting 148 majors.
Forward Sam Weideman remains the Dees' highest priority re-signing for next year with the key forward out of contract. – Callum Twomey
VETERAN EX-CROW IN TALKS WITH TIGERS
DELISTED Adelaide defender Daniel Talia has met with Richmond as he plots his next move after being cut from the Crows.
The 29-year-old remains confident he has several seasons left in his body at the top level despite not playing a game this season due to multiple knee setbacks.
Talia presents as a readymade option for the Tigers and would slot in to replace David Astbury as a key pillar in defence.
Astbury was offered a one-year deal to stay at the club but opted to call time on his career, while fringe tall defenders Ryan Garthwaite, Bigoa Nyuon and Ben Miller remain uncontracted for 2022.
It leaves Dylan Grimes and Noah Balta, plus Nathan Broad who can play taller, as Damien Hardwick's remaining key options locked in defence.
Geelong has also enquired about Talia as it weighs up what to do with its ageing list in the wake of last week's preliminary final disaster.
As a delisted free agent, Talia could move as early as October 1.
Talia played his 200th and final match for the Crows under duress against the Tigers in round 18 last year and admitted he could've finished his campaign earlier and headed for post-season surgery.
He opted not to attend the club's best and fairest last month after not being offered a contract extension.
Essendon had shown interest in Talia given his close links to mentor Ben Rutten. However, as revealed by AFL.com.au, the Bombers instead opted to acquire Talia's former Crows teammate and mid-sized defender Jake Kelly. – Mitch Cleary
ESSENDON FREE AGENTS FACE UNCERTAIN WAIT
BOMBERS pair Martin Gleeson and Dylan Clarke are both set to have to wait until after the upcoming Trade Period before their futures are clear.
The club this week announced it had delisted Irving Mosquito, Ned Cahill and Lachie Johnson to follow the exits of Patrick Ambrose, Cale Hooker and David Zaharakis.
But Gleeson and Clarke, who are both unrestricted free agents, are likely to have to wait several weeks before their fate for 2022 is decided a year on from both of them facing the same situation at the end of last season.
The pair both returned to the senior side late in Essendon's campaign, with defender Gleeson playing in two of the Bombers' last three games, including the elimination final loss to the Western Bulldogs.
He has played 97 games for the club since arriving in 2012, with a serious pre-season ankle injury in 2018 threatening his career.
Clarke suffered his own ankle injury ahead of this season before fighting his way back into the team for the final four rounds of the home and away season.
The midfielder has proven he can find the ball and add to the Bombers' squad as well as be deployed in hard-working shutdown jobs on opposition stars, a role few at Essendon have undertaken.
The 23-year-old has played 24 games for the Bombers, including 12 over the past two years. – Callum Twomey
SWANS MOVE TO LOCK AWAY IRISHMAN
DEFENDER Colin O'Riordan is edging closer to a one-year deal to extend his stay at Sydney into a sixth season.
The Swans currently have 15 players out of contract for 2022 – the most in the AFL – but have started to focus on re-signings after spending much of the year on the road due to COVID-19.
O'Riordan, 25, managed six games this year, including the elimination final loss to Greater Western Sydney.
2019 top-10 pick Dylan Stephens remains unsigned for next season, while Jordan Dawson has signalled his intent to move home to South Australia to Adelaide or Port Adelaide.
Rookie Robbie Fox has recently committed to a one-year extension, while Sam Wicks is on the verge of an extension.
Hayden McLean has interest from St Kilda, while restricted free agent George Hewett is poised to join Carlton.
It leaves Kaiden Brand, Sam Gray, Matthew Ling, Sam Reid, Ben Ronke and Callum Sinclair among those out of contract. – Mitch Cleary
SPEEDY CAT YET TO MAKE CALL
FREMANTLE will wait on Jordan Clark to make a decision on his future before ramping up its pursuit of the contracted Geelong speedster.
The Dockers look unlikely to face crosstown competition for the defender’s services, however, with West Coast understood to be prioritising its existing contract negotiations and not bidding for Clark.
Fremantle is interested in the 20-year-old and is understood to be willing to negotiate a trade with the Cats if a move is requested.
Clark, who is yet to request a trade, has one year remaining on his contract and will first work through his exit meeting with the Cats and get a clearer picture of his future with the preliminary finalists.
There is interest from both the Dockers and Victorian rivals in Clark, who featured in eight games this season and did not play after round 21.
The West Australian drew interest during the NAB AFL Trade Period last year but chose to remain with Geelong and attempt to force his way into the team.
West Coast’s decision not to pursue Clark is in line with a commitment they made to not trade in new players this year, given the sacrifice Eagles players made across the board to their salaries last year.
The club has several players remaining out of contract, including veteran pair Josh Kennedy and Shannon Hurn, who are each keen to play on and will likely sign one-year deals.
The Eagles are yet to confirm new deals for premiership players Liam Duggan and Jack Redden, with Duggan heading for a three-year extension, as well as defensive pair Josh Rotham and Luke Foley.
Jarrod Brander is out-of-contract and still yet to receive an indication on his prospects with West Coast, leaving his future unclear. - Nathan Schmook
WILL BOMBERS PULL TRIGGER ON TRADES?
ESSENDON coach Ben Rutten doesn't expect his club to be super active in the upcoming Trade Period as the Bombers back their young key forwards to make the jump in 2022.
The Bombers will sign Adelaide defender Jake Kelly as an unrestricted free agent and hold pick No.11 at the NAB AFL Draft with an additional key forward clearly a part of their list taking shape.
However, Rutten said the ensemble of Peter Wright, Harrison Jones and Aaron Francis, as well as the yet-to-debut Kaine Baldwin, was an attacking group the club was buoyant about.
"We're just starting to see a bit of what Pete's capable of. I still think he's got a lot of improvement in him. 'Jonesy' had a fantastic season and we really missed what he brought to our club but he's played 16 games of footy," Rutten told AFL.com.au.
"Aaron played a couple of games there but we probably didn't set him up to be successful in terms of the fact that he didn't have a good pre-season with the forwards and building that. We were doing that a little bit on the run.
"Kaine Baldwin is the other one we're pretty optimistic about that is coming back from a knee injury who played a few games towards the end of the season and is in a position to really attack pre-season. We're really hopeful that he's also going to be a player for us and a bit of that healthy competition is always a good thing.
"That's what we've done really well throughout the course of this season – I wanted to find out what we had on our list and really grow and develop what we had.
"It's sometimes it's easy to look elsewhere and how you can trade or add to your squad from external but I think our focus from our coaching group and our players is about developing and maximising the capacity of our current squad. I think that was one of the things we did pretty well."
The Bombers last year tried to lure Josh Dunkley out of the Western Bulldogs to add to their midfield but were not willing to offload two top-10 picks for the premiership player.
They did grab Jye Caldwell from Greater Western Sydney and Rutten said it was likely the club, which holds pick No.11 at the draft, prioritised its own stocks before targeting a bigger-bodied inside option.
"Again I'd be reluctant to source too much external because there's always a cost with that as well until we're really sure on what we've got on our list at the moment. I think there's a lot of positivity there," he said.
"Once we can build a bit more there we'll be able to get a better assessment of what we need." – Callum Twomey