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.
SURPRISE MANAGEMENT MOVE
BUSINESSWOMAN Jesinta Franklin, the wife of Sydney superstar Lance, has made a surprise move into the AFL player management space.
Franklin last week completed the AFL Players' Accreditation course, which includes a three-day seminar delivered online and then an exam.
The AFLPA is currently assessing all aspirants through its process, with Franklin among those applying for her accreditation, which would allow her to directly negotiate deals and sign players.
Lance Franklin and Jesinta are managed by Adam Finch, who is the business manager of Buddy Promotions and Jesinta Franklin Enterprises.
If successful with accreditation, Jesinta wouldn't be involved in Franklin's contract talks with the Swans, with the champion forward's nine-year, $10 million deal finishing at the end of this season.
Sydney CEO Tom Harley has been handling the discussions on Franklin's future deal beyond 2022.
Franklin earlier this year became just the sixth player in AFL/VFL history to reach the astonishing 1000-goal milestone, sparking memorable scenes at the SCG in round two. – Callum Twomey
CROWS MIDFIELDER OPEN TO CHANGE
ADELAIDE midfielder Matt Crouch is open to a move to a rival club if the right suitor emerges.
Crouch hasn't played for the Crows since being dropped after their round 14 loss to Gold Coast and is understood to be receptive about a change of club after a challenging few seasons with Adelaide.
The 2017 All-Australian and best and fairest winner was a free agent last season with rivals aware he was on market before he signed a two-year deal with the Crows.
However, at that stage there was an injury cloud over Crouch as he battled persistent groin issues and ultimately didn't play a single AFL game through the season.
This year he has played 10 games and gotten back to his ball-winning ways by averaging 27 disposals and four clearances, giving clubs more to work with as they assess the inside midfield options.
Crouch, who is contracted to Adelaide for next year, has responded to his omission from the senior side to dominate at SANFL level, picking up 41 disposals and two goals last week and 42 and one goal the previous week. – Callum Twomey
QUIRK IN EAGLES' JACKSON CHASE
WEST Coast would need an AFL exemption to trade for Luke Jackson if the Melbourne young gun decided to go back to Western Australia.
The Eagles are the only club not allowed to trade their first-round pick at this year's draft under the AFL's rules, which force clubs to use two first-round picks over a rolling four-year period to ensure they don't trade away all of their future selections.
West Coast has used one first-round pick in the past four years – Campbell Chesser last year – and could only trade their first pick if they secured a second first-round selection.
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However, clubs are also able to apply for exemptions to trade out their top picks if they haven't reached the two-in-four requirement, with the AFL then able to decide.
The Eagles using their top pick at this year's draft – likely to be No.2 or 3 – to try to lure Jackson back to Western Australia would be expected to be approved by the AFL, though, considering Jackson was a No.3 pick just three years ago and will only be 21 at the end of this season.
Another option would be to split their early pick into two multiple first-round picks, which wouldn't require AFL approval.
The star young ruckman has been weighing his decision to remain at Melbourne, where he was a central member of its premiership win last year, or return to Western Australia, with the Eagles and Fremantle both ready to make a play. – Callum Twomey
TIGERS TO STEP UP PICKETT TALKS
RICHMOND will ramp up contract talks with Marlion Pickett in the coming weeks following the wingman's superb run of form this season.
Pickett is coming towards the end of the two-year deal he signed at the conclusion of the 2020 campaign, though both parties are confident of securing an agreement to extend his time at Punt Road.
The club has been in open dialogue with the 30-year-old throughout the season, where Pickett has enjoyed a career-best stretch of form to average 17.2 disposals and 4.9 score involvements per game.
Already a two-time premiership player with Richmond, having famously made his AFL debut on Grand Final day in 2019 before playing an integral part in the side's 2020 success, Pickett has emerged as one of the game's best wingmen this year.
Tigers coach Damien Hardwick recently suggested the veteran would be an outside chance to claim the side's best and fairest this season, highlighting his importance to the finals-bound outfit.
Pickett, recruited to Richmond during the return of the 2019 mid-season rookie draft, is due to play his 50th game for the club this weekend. – Riley Beveridge
BLUES PONDER TOUGH CONTRACT CALLS
CARLTON faces a series of tough list management decisions at season's end, with a number of the players currently on the club's sizeable long-term injury list also nearing the end of their contracts.
Promising defender Caleb Marchbank and former first-round pick David Cuningham are among those with expiring deals, having barely played any footy over the past two seasons as they each recover from respective ACL injuries.
It's understood the Blues would be keen to retain both players, having each shown significant potential before getting hurt, but will make assessments based on their long-term fitness before entering into contract negotiations.
Marchbank made his AFL comeback last month after missing nearly three years with neck, calf and knee issues, but suffered a lateral meniscus tear on his return and was subsequently ruled out for the next two months.
Meanwhile, Cuningham – one of four Carlton first-round selections from the 2015 NAB AFL Draft – hasn't played since May 2021 after also suffering an ACL injury and is still only an outside chance to return later this year.
Defensive trio Oscar McDonald (back), Luke Parks (foot) and Jordan Boyd (foot) are others unlikely to return from injury this season, and are also coming towards the end of respective one-year rookie contracts penned last season.
Mid-season recruit Sam Durdin is another on an expiring contract, having only nominated for the draft on a six-month deal, before then injuring his knee midway through his first game for the club.
Veteran midfielder Ed Curnow is yet to add to his 204 senior games this season, having dealt with knee and calf injuries that have kept him sidelined for the entire year to date, but is also nearing the end of his most recent deal. – Riley Beveridge
FOOTSCRAY SET TO UNEARTH ANOTHER VFL GEM?
THE NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft may be done for another year and the national and rookie drafts may be months away, but two Victorian clubs are keeping a keen eye on Footscray captain Lachie Sullivan.
The 24-year-old has been a dominant force in the VFL this season, averaging 26.3 disposals, 5.6 tackles and 98 ranking points from 12 games, after finishing fourth in the best and fairest in 2021.
Sullivan has polled the sixth-most votes in the VFL Coaches Award with 47 on the board. The five players ahead of him – Jacob Dawson, Rhys Mathieson, Boyd Woodcock, Paddy Dow and Luke Dunstan – are all currently on or have been on an AFL list, with the next two on Sydney's list.
AFL.com.au understands one club enquired about Sullivan ahead of the mid-season rookie draft but weren't able to proceed because he was ineligible after not nominating for last year's NAB AFL Draft.
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Sullivan's manager, Cam Read from Inside 50, attempted to get an exemption at the last minute after learning of that club's interest through, but the 180cm midfielder was knocked back by the AFL after missing the deadline.
Footscray has been a breeding ground for talent in recent years with Anthony Scott, Will Hayes, Ryan Gardner, Cody Raak and Robbie McComb all graduating to the Western Bulldogs, while Jordan Boyd (Carlton) and Mitch Hannan (Melbourne) landed AFL opportunities after starting in the VFL program at the Whitten Oval. Could Sullivan be next? – Josh Gabelich