ALMOST 30 delisted footballers have found a new AFL home since free agency changed the game forever in 2012.
Saints Dylan Roberton and Tim Membrey, Western Bulldogs premiership defender Joel Hamling – who moved again last year to Fremantle – Carlton's Matthew Wright, Brisbane Lion Mitch Robinson and ex-Demon Daniel Cross all thrived after being cut.
Ricky Henderson (Hawthorn), Michael Barlow (Gold Coast) and Josh Green (Essendon) also played a combined 47 matches at their second clubs this year.
Kangaroo-turned-Eagle Drew Petrie and Docker-cum-Blue Alex Silvagni were NAB AFL Rookie Draft selections.
There were misses, too, but there are bargains to be found.
There could still be more delistings in the coming weeks, but AFL.com.au has ranked this year's current top 10 delisted free agents according to their likelihood of receiving an AFL lifeline.
1. Zac Clarke (Fremantle)
101 games, 46 goals, 28/3/90 (27 years old)
The spring-heeled ruckman, who boasts good endurance and is also capable of playing up forward, made his living in Aaron Sandilands' shadow. Clarke managed double-digit games each season between 2011 and 2016 before knee problems took their toll. Two surgeries, the most recent in February, saw him miss this season, but he is fit again and has attracted genuine interest.
2. Sam Gibson (North Melbourne)
130 games, 51 goals, 27/5/87 (31)
Gibson's 130 straight matches is the AFL's longest active streak and the second-most ever from debut, a feat that made his delisting "hard to fathom". His advanced age hurt him, and his foot skills were also questioned. But Gibson has an outstanding aerobic capacity and is versatile enough to play on the wing, as a tagger – just ask Rory Sloane – or even across half-forward.
3. Aaron Mullett (North Melbourne)
85 games, 31 goals, 23/2/92 (25)
The small defender averaged career-high disposals (20) and only three players in the AFL topped his 5.6 rebound 50s per game, but admitted his physicality in the contest wasn't where it needed to be after past shoulder issues. Mullett has added weight to his frame, says his body is rid of injury and is willing to go anywhere to revive his career.
4. Michael Talia (Sydney)
31 games, 3 goals, 11/2/93 (24)
St Kilda has already indicated it is interested in becoming the 192cm defender's third AFL club, behind his stints at the Western Bulldogs and the Swans. That seems Talia's best chance of continuing at AFL level after controversies at each of his previous two stops. Played a career-most 14 matches for the Bulldogs in 2015, but only one in two seasons in the Harbour City.
5. Lachy Hansen (North Melbourne)
151 games, 81 goals, 17/8/88 (29)
Started the season well enough, but the temptation to play young key defensive prospects Sam Durdin and Dan Nielson only grew as the Roos' losses mounted. Hansen's only match after round 13 was a farewell in the final round. Can play forward or back and is still young enough to perform a role for a club in the right situation to take on a veteran.
6. Lachie Keeffe (Collingwood)
40 games, 7 goals, 14/4/90 (27)
Last played an AFL game in 2014, when he played a career-high 18 matches in what was his best campaign at the elite level. The 204cm, 101kg giant served a two-year anti-doping ban, then was unable to break into the Pies' senior line-up this past season. Prefers to play as a key back, but spent significant time in attack in the VFL this year, booting multiple goals four times.
7. Sam Collins (Fremantle)
14 games, 0 goals, 15/6/94 (23)
Collins fell out of favour this season after playing 12 games in 2016 as a mature-age recruit from the Box Hill Hawks. The key defender stands 192cm and won the Dockers' WAFL affiliate Peel Thunder's club champion award, but struggled to get a look in behind Joel Hamling, Michael Johnson and young prospects Griffin Logue and Brennan Cox. His manager has already taken calls.
8. Jack Trengove (Melbourne)
86 games, 39 goals, 2/9/91 (26)
The No.2 pick in the 2009 NAB AFL Draft never reached his potential at the Demons, in large part because of a serious left foot injury that first surfaced in late 2012. Trengove played only seven senior games across the past four seasons, but was a strong performer at VFL level, is a solid citizen and could add midfield depth somewhere.
9. Ben Kennedy (Melbourne)
40 games, 28 goals, 3/3/94 (23)
Consistently put up big numbers in the VFL, but the closest he got to an AFL game was as an emergency. Kennedy, a goalkicking midfielder, was once rated so highly the ex-Magpie was a top-20 draft pick five years ago, but was one of four Demons suspended mid-season for breaking team rules regarding to alcohol. May still have enough currency to find a third AFL club.
10. Henry Schade (Collingwood)
28 games, 1 goal, 8/10/93 (24)
The twice-delisted tall defender played eight of the first nine games for the Magpies, but was unsighted at AFL level after that. Kept Lance Franklin to three behinds in round three and seemed set to make the most of his second chance after 20 games for the Gold Coast. Schade is pretty athletic for a man of 197cm, so could attract some interest.