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.
DOGS GUN SET FOR BIG DEAL
WESTERN Bulldogs star Jack Macrae is closing in on a new long-term deal that will take him off the free agency list.
The gun midfielder, who loomed as one of the Dogs' priority re-signings this year, is understood to be edging towards a contract extension of likely four or five more seasons.
Macrae, 27, was elevated to be the Bulldogs' vice-captain for this season after three consecutive years in the Therabody AFL All-Australian team and was last year the competition's leading ball-winner. He was also named the Gary Ayres Medallist last year as the best player of the finals.
His phenomenal consistency has seen him play 185 games since joining the Dogs as the No.6 pick at the 2012 NAB AFL Draft, with his 200th game set for 2022.
Macrae was a key player in the Dogs' breakthrough 2016 premiership and his impending signature will lock him in to the club long-term as it strives to claim another flag with its current strong list, and he said in February he was keen to be a one-club player.
"It's no secret how much I love the club and how proud I am to represent this club every week. I obviously want to retire as a Western Bulldogs player," Macrae said in February.
He entered the year as one of nine free agents at the kennel, with All-Australian pair Caleb Daniel and Bailey Dale also unsigned beyond this year. – Callum Twomey
MAGPIES MAKE MOVE FOR MOORE
COLLINGWOOD'S Darcy Moore is weighing a long-term contract offer from the Magpies as the club looks to lock in the star defender.
Moore and the Magpies have been in discussions over a new deal for some time and it is understood a long-term extension – that could be as many as five or six years – is set to be considered.
The game's best free agents usually eye long-term deals once they reach that stage of their career, with Josh Kelly (eight years), Zach Merrett (six years), Patrick Cripps (six years), Nick Vlastuin (five years), Christian Salem (five years) and Luke McDonald (five years) all inking their mega deals in 2021 during their free agency seasons.
Moore hits free agency having last agreed to a two-year extension at the end of 2020 that took him through to the end of his eighth season in the black and white.
Having re-signed Brayden Maynard to a three-year deal in December ahead of his free agency in 2022, the Pies have prioritised Moore with discussions on fellow free agent Jordan De Goey likely to take place in coming months.
Moore has been touted as a possible future captain of the Pies, having been named one of three vice-captains to Scott Pendlebury at Collingwood this season. He joined the Pies as a boom father-son recruit in 2014. – Callum Twomey
LIONS FREE AGENT KEEN TO STAY
BRISBANE forward Dan McStay started discussions on a contract extension, saying there's no reason he'd want to leave.
McStay, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season, has become an integral part of the Lions' dangerous forward line over his 139-game career.
"I'm a pretty loyal guy," he told AFL.com.au.
"I've been here for nine years and been through some pretty bad times.
"I'm really comfortable with where the club's heading and would love to be part of the future of that. There's no reason why I would think about leaving."
McStay kicked a career-best 28 goals from 19 games last season before being knocked out in the opening minutes of the Lions' qualifying final loss to Melbourne and ruled out with concussion for the following week against the Western Bulldogs.
With a lack of key position players in the market the Victorian would attract interest from a number of clubs but said he had stuck through some tough times at the club.
"I look back and probably my first and second contract you could argue why did I stay?" he said.
"It comes back to loyalty. I feel like I wanted to repay the club that took me on. I've always seen the glass half full, even when the times were pretty bad." – Michael Whiting
POWER MIDFIELDER TO WAIT
PORT Adelaide has been on a significant signing spree ahead of the season starting, but free agent Karl Amon isn't among the new deals as the gun wingman holds off contract talks for now.
Amon looms as the Power's most important re-signing after the club locked in new deals for nine of their players in recent weeks, including star young pair Zak Butters and Connor Rozee, the versatile Dan Houston and first-round draft pick Josh Sinn among others.
But Amon, who reaches free agency status this year, is yet to jump into discussions on an extension as he waits to get the season off and running.
Amon was on the trade table at the end of 2018 and had interest from St Kilda, Carlton and Hawthorn, but after no deal was secured he went back to Alberton Oval and has become one of the best wingmen in the AFL with his line-breaking kicking and strong running.
The 26-year-old, who finished fourth in Port's best and fairest, will again be on the radars of clubs from his home state in Victoria, but Port Adelaide has a strong track record of retaining its key players and he is settled in South Australia.
Others at the Power to ink new deals this month include Ryan Burton, Tom Clurey, Willem Drew, Ollie Lord and Dante Visentini. – Callum Twomey
GUN DRAFTEE CLOSES ON EARLY EXTENSION
FREMANTLE is close to locking away top-10 draft pick Neil Erasmus beyond his initial two-year contract, with talks underway for an early extension.
Erasmus, who was recruited with pick No.10 in the 2021 NAB AFL Draft, has made a big impression in his first pre-season with the Dockers and is currently contracted until the end of next season on the standard draftee deal.
The Hale School product is a key cog in the Dockers' future midfield and it is understood talks were held this week to lock him away beyond 2023, likely for a further two seasons.
Erasmus is a powerful midfielder with an elite work rate who has shown his ability to rack up disposals during summer match simulation. He can also push forward and be a dangerous option.
The 18-year-old was overlooked in the AAMI Community Series, but the Dockers have indicated an AFL debut is in reach once he improves certain elements of his game, including the defensive aspects.
Fremantle held three top-end selections in last year's NAB AFL Draft, also recruiting local talents Jye Amiss (pick No.8) and Matthew Johnson (No.21).
Key forward Amiss was managed carefully through his first pre-season, while midfielder Johnson has a foot injury, putting early-season debuts out of reach for the pair. – Nathan Schmook
SUNS EXTEND FORWARD
GOLD Coast has locked in Darcy Macpherson for another two years after the Suns forward knocked back being traded last year.
Macpherson was in line to be traded last year with a year to run on his deal at the Suns as the club looked at ways to lighten its salary cap.
But after refusing a move despite North Melbourne's interest, Macpherson and the Suns agreed to a two-year contract extension which allows the club to smooth out some of his salary through to the end of 2024. He was originally signed to the end of 2022.
Macpherson finished third in the club's best and fairest in 2019 when he played 22 games for the club, in the best of his six seasons at the Suns.
He has played 23 games in the past two seasons, for a total of 62 appearances for the club, and will be aiming to cement his place again in Gold Coast's forward half in 2022.
Macpherson is the son of former Western Bulldog Steve, who played 188 games for the Dogs between 1982-95. – Callum Twomey
INJURED PREMIERSHIP EAGLE OPENS CONTRACT TALKS
WEST Coast has started talks to extend premiership defender Tom Cole's contract after he was moved to the inactive list following a serious ankle injury.
The important backman suffered damage to ankle ligaments during training late last month and was moved off the main list after further assessment, ruling him out for an extended period.
Out of contract at the end of this season, Cole had enjoyed an outstanding pre-season and was on course to play the early stages of the year before then starting contract talks.
The 24-year-old Victorian has attributes that make him an important signature for the Eagles, including both his speed and ability to lock down on dangerous small forwards.
He is coming off a career-best season in 2021, finishing ninth in the best and fairest and playing all 22 games to take his career tally to 78. – Nathan Schmook