OUT-OF-CONTRACT Geelong midfielder Tim Kelly has personally met with Fremantle and West Coast in recent weeks as decision time nears on his future beyond this year.

Kelly is yet to make a call on where he will play in 2020, but it is believed his preference – as it was last year – is to be an Eagle if he, as expected, elects to leave the Cattery.

AFL.com.au reported in March that the Dockers were a player in the Kelly race after only West Coast was considered as a trade destination in the 2018 NAB AFL Trade Period.

The fact the former South Fremantle star was willing to meet with the Dockers, including list boss Peter Bell, is further evidence of how open-minded he now is.

Whether Ross Lyon's sacking as Fremantle coach positively or negatively impacts on Kelly's decision remains to be seen.

ROSS NOT THE BOSS Fremantle sacks Ross Lyon

Kelly is in a stronger bargaining position this time around, given his two-year draft contract will expire at season's end, meaning he will have more options to move.

However, Geelong is still considered an outside chance to retain him.

It is understood Kelly's preference, if he chooses to stay, is to receive a one-year deal from the Cats that would include a multi-season option should he want to accept it.

But the midfielder resisted Geelong's mid-season wish for him to make an early decision.

Josh Kelly signed a similar contract when he re-committed to Greater Western Sydney in May.

The gun Cat's stock has soared even more in 2019, and he has improved his numbers almost across the board, including averaging 25.4 disposals, 6.2 clearances and 4.3 inside 50s.

Kelly is exactly the type of player the Dockers need to complement superstar Nat Fyfe and emerging pair Andrew Brayshaw and Adam Cerra as they prepare for a new era under a different coach.

They will be able to offer a better monetary deal than the Eagles – thought to be at least $650,000-per-season – but Adam Simpson's team is in a stronger position to be a flag contender.

The chase for Kelly is even more crucial for Fremantle because of the likely exits of high-profile pair Brad Hill and Ed Langdon.

Kelly and his partner, Caitlin, have three young children, Tykeem and twins Tariq and Trey, and greater family support is a major appeal for them being back in Western Australia.