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.
GIANTS PRE-AGENT IN CLUBS' SIGHTS
CLUBS are circling Greater Western Sydney midfielder Jacob Hopper for a potential pre-agency move this year.
Hopper qualifies as a free agent in 2023 and with one year left on his contract is being targeted by Victorian clubs looking to bolster their midfield.
Geelong and Richmond are among the clubs linked to the star ball-winner, with recent industry discussion suggesting the 25-year-old, who has flirted with a trade to Victorian previously, could be gettable. Essendon, too, has previously looked at Hopper and would likely consider again.
The Giants Academy product has missed most of this season due to a knee injury but returned in the VFL last week with 33 disposals and is likely to get a senior recall this weekend.
The Giants would need to agree to trade Hopper whilst he is in contract, but have previously moved on a pre-agent, having traded Dylan Shiel to Essendon for two first-round picks in 2018, the year before he became a free agent, when they would have only received one draft selection as compensation if he left the following year.
Clubs interested in GWS midfielder Tim Taranto, who is considering a move back to Victoria, could also shape their interest in Hopper while Giants youngster Tanner Bruhn is another weighing up a return home from the Giants. – Callum Twomey
BOMBERS SKIPPER IN LIMBO
ESSENDON captain Dyson Heppell remains without a contract offer for next year as rival interest grows in the veteran Bomber.
Heppell is an unrestricted free agent and Essendon has not yet put forward a deal for 2023.
The 30-year-old, whose form has spiked in recent weeks as Essendon's season has hit its best patch, is keen to play on next season.
Rival clubs are considering making a play for Heppell as an experienced option to add to their group if the Bombers aren't to retain him.
Heppell has played every game for the Bombers this season, including his 200th match for the club in round nine against Sydney.
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He has been Essendon skipper since 2017 and said earlier this year he was keen to remain at the club to oversee a transition for the next captain, with Zach Merrett and Andrew McGrath the leading candidates, potentially as dual skippers.
The Bombers need to re-sign McGrath, too, for next year, with the club spruiking its large salary cap bounty for this off-season, which was revealed by Inside Trading earlier this year. – Callum Twomey
SAINTS DEFENDER CLOSING ON NEW DEAL
A MOVE into the backline has reinvigorated the career of St Kilda's Josh Battle and is set to result in an imminent contract extension, with the reliable Saint on the cusp of signing a fresh two-year deal.
It's understood Battle is closing in on an extension that will take St Kilda's chief interceptor through to free agency, just reward for a career-best campaign in which he has settled into a consistent position down back.
Battle had been thrown around in a variety of roles over the last two seasons, mainly between a wing and a key forward post, but has emerged as the Saints' most prominent intercept defender this year to play every game for Brett Ratten's side.
He's averaged a team-high 6.2 intercept possessions and also averages two intercept marks per game, forming a nice defensive partnership with both Dougal Howard and Callum Wilkie.
His inability to find rhythm in a consistent role led to rival clubs raising his name as a potential trade option last year, though his transformation as an intercept defender means his future will be at RSEA Park. – Riley Beveridge
DOCKER INKS EXTENSION
FREMANTLE half-forward Travis Colyer has been rewarded for his continued improvement late in his career, with the 30-year-old signing a one-year extension for 2023.
Colyer, who has rotated between half-forward and the wing when required this year, has missed one game in his past two seasons due to health and safety protocols and become a valued member of Justin Longmuir's set-up.
The former Bomber finished ninth in last year's best and fairest and was locked away quietly last month for a fifth season with the Dockers, who value his running power and leadership in the forward line.
Meanwhile, the Dockers have presented key defender Griffin Logue with a contract, but talks are moving slowly amid rival interest in the 24-year-old, who has recently underlined his value with impressive performances at both ends of the ground.
Negotiations continue with much-improved midfielders Blake Acres and James Aish, who are out of contract at the end of this season and have played significant roles in the Dockers' top-four rise.
Acres' career was at the crossroads at the end of last season, but the 26-year-old is now likely to attract a multi-season deal after emerging as one of the game's best wingmen in the first half of 2022 before suffering a hamstring injury. – Nathan Schmook
DOGS KEEN TO EXTEND FATHER-SON GUN
THE WESTERN Bulldogs have moved to secure a deal for in-form father-son gun Rhylee West, with his sparkling return to the senior team catching the attention of rival clubs in recent months.
Having played just 11 games in his first three seasons at the club, West has carved out a niche role in the Dogs' forward line this year resulting in a career-best three-game stretch that yielded nine goals throughout June.
Coming towards the end of a two-year deal he signed in 2020, West's return to form has resulted in enquiries from rival clubs about his future and a push from the Dogs to secure the 22-year-old to an extension.
West, who is the son of seven-time Western Bulldogs best and fairest Scott, has played a career-high nine games this year having emerged as a tough-tackling 181cm small forward capable of marking strongly above his head.
The Dogs matched a bid from Melbourne at pick No.26 to secure West during the 2018 NAB AFL Draft and have since added fellow father-son jet Sam Darcy at pick No.2 last year and Next Generation Academy graduate Jamarra Ugle-Hagan at pick No.1 in 2020.
The club has already secured a host of important players to lengthy extensions this season, including free agents Jack Macrae and Bailey Dale until 2027 and Caleb Daniel until 2026. Tim English has also re-signed for a further two years. – Riley Beveridge
MARKOV WANTS MORE AT SUNS
GOLD Coast's backline has been decimated by injury recently, and one uncontracted defender is hoping to use the final six weeks to press his claims for an extension.
Oleg Markov was just finding a home at half-back before missing last week's incredible win over his former club Richmond under the AFL's health and safety protocols.
The lightning quick defender, who has also spent time on the wing this season, should return against Essendon on Sunday.
"I've told my manager what my needs are and I'd love to stay," Markov told AFL.com.au.
"It's just a matter of him organising that. I just need to concentrate on my footy … play consistent, my brand, and within the parameters of the team."
The Suns are missing backline locks Lachie Weller (knee), Wil Powell (ankle) and Connor Budarick (knee) for the rest of the year, making Markov's speed even more crucial.
The 26-year-old has played 25 games in his two seasons with Gold Coast after moving from the Tigers at the end of 2020. – Michael Whiting
YOUNG GIANT SECURES EXTENSION
GREATER Western Sydney has rewarded the form of mature-age rookie James Peatling by re-signing him for two more seasons.
The 21-year-old has played 11 games since arriving at the Giants after being selected with pick No. 8 in last year’s Mid-Season Rookie Draft, including five of the past seven.
Peatling has thrived under Mark McVeigh, kicking three goals in each of the first three games under the interim coach to show he has a future in the game.
The Pennant Hills product was overlooked in a couple of drafts after being a member of Greater Western Sydney’s Academy before joining the VFL program.
Peatling has emerged as one of the better mid-season recruits from last year’s class, behind Hawthorn midfielder Jai Newcombe, Essendon midfielder Sam Durham and St Kilda forward Cooper Sharman. – Josh Gabelich
TOP PROSPECTS SIGN ON
THIS year's top group of draftees have been scooped up by player management companies around the country.
Player agents work well in advance to secure the best prospects in the land, with 2022's highly rated players locked in across the industry.
DRAFT HUB Click here for the latest draft news
The under-18 carnival is set to continue this Sunday, when Vic Metro faces South Australia and Vic Country takes on Western Australia at GMHBA Stadium, and the majority of draft-age players out there have already signed with agents.
Of the possible top-20 selections, George Wardlaw, Elijah Tsatas, Harry Sheezel, Matt Jefferson, Cam Mackenzie and Jakob Ryan are with Connors Sports Management.
Potential No.1 pick Will Ashcroft is among the players with Hemisphere Management Group, as well as Aaron Cadman, Alwyn Davey, Brayden George, Ollie Hollands and Henry Hustwaite.
TLA Australia has Jhye Clark, SA's Isaac Keeler and West Australian pair Jedd Busslinger and Elijah Hewett, Kapital Sports Group has Mitch Szybkowski and Phoenix Foster, and Brisbane father-son Jaspa Fletcher is with Phoenix Management Group.
Ruckman Harry Barnett and key forward Tom Scully are with Mac's Sports Promotions, Players Ink Management has Harry Lemmey and Crows father-son Max Michalanney and Sam Gilbey is with Corporate Sports Australia and Harry Rowston with Vivid Sport. - Callum Twomey