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.
DONS DUO IN CONTRACT TALKS
ESSENDON is in talks over new deals for free agent Kyle Langford and first-year sensation Nic Martin.
Martin made a stunning AFL debut in round one with five goals from 27 disposals just weeks after officially joining the Bombers as a pre-season supplemental selection period signing.
He missed the following week under COVID health and safety protocols but has been one of Essendon's most consistent players this season on the wing and across half-forward averaging 22 disposals.
His SSP rookie deal is only for this season, with Martin in discussions for a contract extension, which would likely be two years after the brilliant start to his career.
Langford is set to be an unrestricted free agent, meaning Essendon couldn't match a rival's deal for him, but the important midfielder is keen to remain at Tullamarine.
He has played 99 games for the club and is a young free agent in that he doesn't turn 26 until December after the end of this season. Langford is currently nursing a hamstring injury, with his absence in the midfield and forward half felt for the Bombers since round one.
The 21-year-old Martin claimed the NAB AFL Rising Star nomination in round one, having only started training with the Bombers in January following being overlooked in last year's drafts.
The Subiaco product was first eligible for the draft in 2019 but was overlooked for three successive years before finding his way to Essendon. – Callum Twomey
HAWKS FORWARD KEEN TO STAY
HAWTHORN'S in-form key forward Mitch Lewis says he is excited for the future with the Hawks as he remains out of contract this year.
Lewis has started the year in career-best form, booting 15 goals in the first five rounds before suffering a minor hamstring injury against Geelong that saw him miss Monday's loss to Sydney.
The 23-year-old's contract he signed in 2019 expires at the end of this season. Discussions haven't started with the Hawks on a new contract but Lewis said he was keen to stay at the club.
"Obviously I'm extremely happy here at the moment but hopefully that will run its course and hopefully I get another contract," he told AFL.com.au.
"I'm super keen to see where this club goes and love Sam Mitchell as a coach as well as the assistant coaches I've built a really strong rapport with, David Hale and Adrian Hickmott especially. [With] the coaches as well as the players there's a tightknit group of guys here so I'm very happy."
Lewis kicked the match-sealing goal against the Cats in the final moments of the last quarter and banged the ball through the goals, but said his hamstring injury had occurred earlier in the term.
"Despite many people saying that I did it in that last kick, [that] isn't true. It's actually my left hammy and I felt it sort of go as I was striving across the ground at the start of the last quarter," he said.
"It's not really too bad so just as little tear and hopefully only a couple of weeks. It didn't affect me enough to not be able to finish the game out which was nice." – Callum Twomey
BLUES MIDFIELDER TO SEEK MULTI-YEAR DEAL
CARLTON has started initial chats over a contract extension for Matt Kennedy.
The Blues midfielder is a free agent at season's end, having been delisted and re-drafted as a rookie at the end of the 2020 campaign, but has established himself as an important member of the side's midfield under new coach Michael Voss.
It's expected his enhanced reputation and his status as a free agent will likely mean Kennedy will seek a multi-year deal to tie him to the Blues for the foreseeable future, having signed short-term contracts for the last two seasons.
Kennedy won 30 or more disposals in each of the Blues' first three games this season, while he also averaged six clearances per game in that stretch, forming an exciting partnership with captain Patrick Cripps and new recruits Adam Cerra and George Hewett.
The 25-year-old dealt with soreness last week and missed the side's trip to Western Australia to face Fremantle, but is expected to recover in time for Saturday night's fixture with North Melbourne.
Kennedy, a graduate of the Giants Academy, was traded to Carlton for pick No.28 at the end of the 2017 season. But he played just 42 games in his first four years with the Blues, struggling to establish himself under both Brendon Bolton and David Teague.
He spent the 2021 season on the club's rookie list, courtesy of a one-year deal, before signing another one-year contract extension for this season after being elevated back onto its primary list. – Riley Beveridge
ANY MID-SEASON NOMINATION EXEMPTIONS?
THE AFL will lean on clubs' level of interest in prospects before deciding on making any exemptions for nominees for the NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft.
Rules state that for a player to be eligible they must have been overlooked in the most recent national draft or have previously been on an AFL list. AFL-listed players who retire must wait more than 12 months to enter.
There will be a number of applicants for exemptions this season but there will be no blanket exemptions from the AFL, with each nomination to be reviewed case-by-case.
Clubs are expected to be a part of the process as well, with genuine interest in drafting the players at the June 1 mid-season intake to be a key factor in decisions on exemptions.
Often players did not nominate for last year's draft due to being off the radar, playing in regional competitions and not viewing the mid-season draft the following season as a possible destination after two COVID-19 affected seasons.
Port Melbourne VFL prospect Will Reinhold did not nominate for last year's draft but has gathered interest as a possible mid-season pick if granted an exemption. Reinhold, who is a cousin of Brisbane spearhead Joe Daniher, is a tall defender with an excellent left-foot kick who has taken the eye at VFL level.
The 20-year-old has also been used up on the wing.
Hugo Hall-Kahan, who is playing for the Sandringham Dragons as an over-ager this season, would also require an exemption if he wanted to nominate for the mid-season draft after not nominating for last year's national draft.
Hall-Kahan's exciting start to the NAB League season – he has kicked 11 goals in the opening four games – has put him on the map, with bags of five and four goals so far. The medium forward, who is the nephew of former Makybe Diva racehorse trainer David Hall, is a strong mark over his head with an athletic leap. He turns 19 in September.
Last year there were around a dozen players given exemptions for the mid-season rookie draft, including former basketballer and young ruckman Alex Mirkov, who landed at Carlton.
Clubs are for the large part supportive of exemptions being given to players if it means an opportunity to be drafted is available. – Callum Twomey
FORMER SWAN CATCHING ATTENTION
DELISTED Swan Malachy Carruthers has put himself back on the radar of AFL clubs ahead of the mid-season rookie draft, following an eye-catching start to the season.
The 19-year-old returned to Sturt after Sydney chose not to extend his initial one-year contract beyond last October.
AFL.com.au understands two clubs have expressed interest in the wingman, who produced his best performance yet at SANFL level on the weekend, collecting 28 disposals and nine marks against Port Adelaide at Alberton Oval on Sunday.
Adelaide included Carruthers on its list of 20 top-up players in March in the event the Crows are wiped out by COVID-19 and need to use players from the SANFL.
Carruthers spent one season on the rookie list at the SCG but failed to break in for a senior game under John Longmire, before the Swans chose not to offer the South Australian another deal.
Five clubs currently have spots available ahead of the mid-season draft on June 1 – Carlton, Fremantle, Geelong, Hawthorn and Sydney – while Adelaide, Gold Coast and St Kilda can all open up a position by placing injured players on the inactive list.
Recruiters will need to wait until just before the draft to determine what needs they need to fill on their list, but the wing is a position that is understood to be increasing in value. – Josh Gabelich