FORMER North Melbourne captain Andrew Swallow has retired despite having a year remaining on his contract after missing out on a desired move to Gold Coast.

Swallow, 30, said during last month's trade period he would "love" to join the Suns and play alongside younger brother David, but Gold Coast elected not to take the midfielder during the first delisted free agency period, which closed on Wednesday.

And with the Suns unwilling to commit to taking the West Australian as a rookie ahead of Thursday's 2pm second list lodgement deadline, he has chosen to retire.

"It was a very tough decision to make and it's with a heavy heart that I've chosen to end my AFL career today," Swallow told on Thursday.

"I've been fortunate to have had a 12-year career with North and I owe a lot to the club for investing in me not only as a player, but also as a person.

"After speaking with my wife, Elise, and weighing up my future and that of our young family, we're looking for a new direction and challenge.

"It's been an incredible journey, but it's now time to move on to the next chapter of our lives and I'm really excited for what lies ahead for us."

Pick No.43 in the 2005 NAB AFL Draft, Swallow played 224 games for North and kicked 80 goals.

He captained the Kangaroos from 2012-16 and won the club's best and fairest award in 2009, 2011 and 2012, becoming only the ninth Roo to have won at least three Syd Barker Medals.

Swallow was also named in the preliminary All Australian squad from 2010-12 and led North in four finals campaigns (2012, 2014-16) that were highlighted by consecutive preliminary final appearances in 2014 and 2015.

A hardnosed inside midfielder in choir boy's clothing, Swallow finished his career ranked second in League history for average tackles (6.61) and fourth for total tackles (1480).

At his peak, Swallow was a remarkably consistent performer. In 2010, he finished just one vote behind joint North best and fairest winners Brent Harvey and Brady Rawlings and, ultimately, one vote from winning four consecutive Syd Barker Medals.

After a severe Achilles tendon injury in round 18, 2013, Swallow returned to finish sixth in North's 2015 best and fairest and ninth in 2016.

"Andrew has been an absolute pleasure to coach and was one of those players that made life in the coach's box much easier," North coach Brad Scott said.

"There have been few players as brave and determined as Andrew. He was an inspirational and dedicated leader that led by example with his tenacity, uncompromising attack on the ball and man, and his professionalism both on and off the field.

"No matter the situation, we could always rely on Andrew to get the job done.

"He had little regard for his own well-being at times and did everything in his power to win the ball for the team or force an opposition turnover."

Swallow's desire to explore a move from Arden St was sparked by a 2017 season he described as "one of the more challenging years" of his football career.

The midfielder was dropped to the VFL for the first time since 2008 as young Roo and fellow inside midfielder Trent Dumont assumed a more prominent role.

Despite returning to play 2017's final 10 rounds, Swallow would likely have struggled for senior opportunities next season, when North is expected to blood its young midfielders at every opportunity.