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.
LIONS UP OFFER TO KEEP FORWARD
BRISBANE has upped the ante to keep key forward Dan McStay, offering the in-demand free agent a five-year deal.
The out-of-contract goalkicker has been courted by Victorian clubs, with Collingwood among those interested, whilst piecing together a consistent season with the premiership contenders.
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But the Lions are keen to keep him and are understood to have lifted their offer from four to five years in the hope they can ward off rivals and retain him in Brisbane. Chief executive Greg Swann last week said the Lions were quietly confident of keeping the 26-year-old.
McStay has been a key part of Brisbane's build and rise up the ladder and last year booted 28 goals. The left-footer has kicked 12 goals this season as an important marking option for the club inside attack and last week returned from an ankle injury to help the Lions overcome the Giants at the Gabba with two goals and 14 disposals.
The 148-gamer shapes as one of the most valuable free agents in the market given the scarcity of key position options available. Brisbane is not able to match a free agency bid for McStay given he is an unrestricted free agent.
Defender Darcy Gardiner, a restricted free agent at the Lions, has been in discussions about a new deal. – Callum Twomey
HAWKS IN TALKS WITH KEY PAIR
HAWTHORN is in contract discussions with its bookends Mitch Lewis and Sam Frost for new deals.
Lewis has shaped as a priority re-signing this year for the Hawks given his impressive improvement in a key post under Sam Mitchell, with the strong-marking forward booting 22 goals in seven games.
A hamstring injury suffered against Geelong ruled him out for three weeks but the 23-year-old has already equalled his career-best season tally of goals (which was 22 majors last season from 14 games).
A two-year deal would take him through to free agency but a longer term is also possible for Lewis, who has played 43 games since being pick 76 at the 2016 draft.
Frost is also out of contract but has been in talks on a new deal to remain at the club.
The former Giants and Demons defender has missed just one game for the Hawks since crossing to the club from Melbourne at the end of 2019 on a three-year deal but will sit out this week through suspension for front-on contact on Gold Coast's Brandon Ellis. – Callum Twomey, Josh Gabelich
WHICH CLUBS HAVE THE MOST OUT OF CONTRACT PLAYERS?
THE WESTERN Bulldogs and Richmond are set to be the busiest clubs from a re-contracting perspective in the second half of the season.
It's understood the Dogs and the Tigers each still have in excess of 20 players coming out of contract at year's end, among the most in the competition.
Collingwood, Essendon, Geelong and Sydney also have close to 20 players without deals, with the majority of the League having around 14 to 18 players currently uncontracted.
The Dogs' batch of uncontracted stars includes free agents Caleb Daniel and Bailey Dale, as well as gun youngsters like Bailey Smith, Tim English and Josh Dunkley.
However, as previously flagged by AFL.com.au's Inside Trading, Daniel is closing to secure a long-term extension at the Kennel while English is heading towards his new deal with the Dogs and will stay.
Veteran trio Jack Riewoldt, Trent Cotchin and Shane Edwards are among the group of uncontracted Tigers, while fellow premiership stars Liam Baker, Daniel Rioli and Nathan Broad also need to be tied down.
Rioli has parked contract talks after only signing a one-year deal last season. He told AFL.com.au's Inside Trading last week: "No contract talks at the moment. I'm keeping it down low."
Adelaide is understood to have the fewest uncontracted players by a significant margin and needs to make decisions on only 10 footballers still without deals for next year. – Riley Beveridge
YOUNG DEE KEEN TO STAY
MELBOURNE youngster Toby Bedford is hopeful a promising spell of form will translate to a contract extension at season's end, reaffirming his love and commitment to the reigning premier.
Bedford has carved out a niche role as a medical substitute this season, starting eight of his 10 AFL games as the Dees' 23rd man. But the 22-year-old has impressed when given an opportunity, kicking five goals from his last three appearances.
Signed to the club on a one-year extension last season, Bedford is aiming to earn another deal later this year to extend his time at the club after he was originally drafted to Melbourne through its Next Generation Academy.
"I'll let my manager work through all of that, but I would love to stay at the club. I love the boys and I love all of the coaches. We'll just see what happens," Bedford told AFL.com.au this week.
"I've got a strong relationship with the club. They helped me get drafted in the end. I think I was on the verge before I joined the NGA, but from there the dream kind of seemed like it would come true. I was so focused on it after that.
"It's still really good being at the club now. I was training and doing a little bit of stuff with the boys a year or two prior to being drafted. A lot of people that were here when I first got here are still here and I'm just loving it." – Riley Beveridge
SAINTS SET TO MISS ON NGA TALENT
ST KILDA is set to miss out on Next Generation Academy talent Cam Mackenzie as the midfielder shoots up draft boards.
Mackenzie has impressed at NAB League level this year for the Sandringham Dragons, averaging 22 disposals in the first month of the season. He was among his side's best players in round one against Oakleigh with 18 disposals and a goal, and also had 25 disposals against Tasmania in round four.
The tough and competitive 187cm ball-getter is a member of the Saints' Academy as his mother was born in South Africa. But the Saints will only get priority access to Mackenzie if he slips outside the first 40 picks on draft night after the AFL revised its rules on NGA players this year.
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Some clubs are viewing Mackenzie as a top-20 pick, meaning he would be available to all clubs with the Saints unable to match a bid until later on.
"Last year he had limited exposure but it showed him he was a step off it as a midfielder so he built his body up, he's clean, he's got strength and power and he's become an inside midfielder who can go forward and kick goals," said Dragons talent manager Mark Wheeler.
"He took it personal last year and did something about it. He's one who has really done the work."
Mackenzie trained with the Saints for a week alongside top-10 prospect Harry Sheezel earlier this year.
The Saints last year had a record four players drafted from their Next Generation Academy – Mitchito Owens, Marcus Windhager, Jack Peris and Josiah Kyle. Melbourne last year was unable to match an NGA bid for Mac Andrew when the rules disallowed clubs from matching inside the top-20 picks. Andrew went to Gold Coast with pick No.5 in the national draft. – Callum Twomey