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.
TIGERS STAR SET TO STAY
RICHMOND fan favourite and triple-premiership star Daniel Rioli is on the cusp of signing a long-term extension to remain at Punt Road.
AFL.com.au understands Rioli is on the verge of agreeing to a new deal with the Tigers, having initially delayed talks to focus on his football throughout the season.
As revealed by AFL.com.au's Inside Trading in April, Rioli had elected to park talks with Richmond officials over a new deal after only signing a one-year extension to remain with the Tigers for this season.
It led to widespread speculation over his future among clubs, though after changing management groups shortly after the 25-year-old is close to committing his best years to Damien Hardwick's side.
Rioli played key roles for Richmond in each of its premiership campaigns in 2017, 2019 and 2020, but has made a successful switch into the backline recently to average 20.7 disposals and five marks per game this year.
He had a career-high 31 disposals against Gold Coast a fortnight ago, having previously racked up personal-best tallies of 27 and 28 touches against Geelong and then West Coast in the two weeks prior.
TRADE HUB All the latest player movement news
Rioli's signature is set to be a significant fillip for a Richmond side battling to retain its position inside the AFL's top-eight, after close losses to the Suns and the Kangaroos over the last fortnight.
Richmond has a series of intriguing contract decisions still to make in the final weeks of the season, with veteran trio Jack Riewoldt, Trent Cotchin and Shane Edwards – along with important utility Liam Baker – nearing the end of their current deals. – Riley Beveridge, Callum Twomey
BOMBERS OFFER DEAL TO SKIPPER, OPEN TALKS WITH RUCK GUN
AFTER a long wait, Essendon has offered a contract extension to its skipper Dyson Heppell.
Inside Trading revealed last week that the Bombers were yet to put forward a deal to Heppell for 2023 as rivals considered the 30-year-old as a potential veteran free agent option.
But a day after that, the Bombers offered Heppell a one-year extension through to the end of 2023 following coach Ben Rutten saying he wanted the 208-gamer at the club next season.
Heppell has played every game this season for the Bombers, in what is his sixth as the club's captain. He is keen to play on next year, with a leadership handover appearing likely.
Discussions have also opened on an extension for emerging ruck star Sam Draper.
Draper's deal with the Bombers goes through to the end of 2023 when he will be one season short of free agency, although early talks have begun on furthering that deal.
The 23-year-old shapes as a crucial part of Essendon's future, with his brilliant running goal-of-the-year contender against Gold Coast showing his rare athleticism and aggression for a player of his type.
St Kilda tried to lure Draper on a lucrative four-year deal in 2019 before he had made his AFL debut before he stuck with the Bombers, who drafted him with the No.1 pick in the rookie draft at the end of 2016. – Callum Twomey
CLUBS TRACKING LIONS' DEPTH
THE STRENGTH of Brisbane's midfield has seen ball-winner Deven Robertson come under rival interest ahead of the off-season.
And he's among a number of Lions who have been in and out of the side this season who have garnered attention from other clubs.
Robertson is contracted for next year at the Lions, but that hasn't stopped clubs enquiring about the West Australian as a trade option after five senior appearances this season.
The 21-year-old is the nephew of former West Coast skipper Darren Glass and landed at the Lions as the No.21 pick in the 2019 draft.
Tom Berry, who is out of contract this season, is also viewed as a trade target for rivals after playing three games this year for a total of 20 in three seasons at the club.
The younger brother of Lions midfielder Jarrod has speed and toughness through the forward line and can also be used further up the ground.
Midfielder Rhys Mathieson last year signed a two-year contract extension through to the end of 2023 but could also be looked at by rivals as a ready-to-go contested ball-winner after being overlooked for most of this season at Brisbane.
He was the unused medical substitute against Essendon in round 17 before playing his first game of the year last weekend against Greater Western Sydney with 23 disposals. He is due to reach free agency at the end of next season.
The Lions have built a steady and consistent midfield group in recent seasons that has been difficult to break into, and have access to two father-son midfielders at this year's draft in potential No.1 pick Will Ashcroft and possible first-rounder Jaspa Fletcher. – Callum Twomey
PIES DEBUTANT EARNS NEW DEAL
Fresh from making his debut against Adelaide last weekend, Collingwood forward Ash Johnson has earned a fresh deal to remain at the Magpies in 2023.
The 24-year-old made an eye-catching first appearance at Adelaide Oval on Saturday, kicking two goals from 11 disposals to help the Magpies record an eighth straight win.
Johnson was selected in last year's Mid-Season Rookie Draft and was on the cusp of earning a first crack at AFL level before suffering a serious hamstring injury early in the season.
Johnson impressed the football department inside the AIA Centre with his rehabilitation efforts across April, May and June, and was on track for an extension before his surprise debut.
The explosive forward is from Halls Creek and is the brother of Adelaide's Shane McAdam and Fremantle's Eric Benning, as well as the cousin of Gold Coast's Jy Farrar and West Coast's Samo Petrevski-Seton.
Johnson moved from Western Australia to play country footy in the Ovens and King League for North Wangaratta, then moved to Adelaide and played amateur footy for Old Scotch Collegians before earning a shot in the SANFL for the Crows reserves and then Sturt, where Collingwood recruited him from.
Now he has secured his future at Collingwood for at least the next 12 months. – Josh Gabelich
FREE AGENT EAGLE CATCHING INTEREST
CLUBS are monitoring Jackson Nelson's situation at West Coast.
Nelson, who played his 100th game for the club against Geelong last month, is an unrestricted free agent at year's end and is yet to start talks with the Eagles over a new deal beyond this season.
The 26-year-old has proved a versatile role player throughout a consistent career, mainly used between the wing and half-back, playing more than 10 games in all but one of his eight campaigns with the West Australian club.
He has played 11 senior games this year but was dropped after the round 14 loss to the Cats. However, he responded in the WAFL the following week to win 20 disposals and a goal against South Fremantle.
A Victorian junior who played his TAC Cup footy with the Geelong Falcons, Nelson featured 10 times for West Coast in its 2018 premiership season but was named as an emergency for the Toyota AFL Grand Final. – Riley Beveridge
ANOTHER AGENTS DOCUMENTARY IN THE WORKS
PLAYER agents could again be front and centre during this year's trade and free agency period, with the intention for a second run of Stan's Show Me The Money documentary to be produced.
The three-part series tracked four player management groups through last year's off-season, focusing on the wheeling and dealing of agents in their busiest time of the year.
It highlighted the managers' roles in contracts and trades as well as recruiting draft prospects and seeing them enter the AFL system.
DRAFT HUB Click here for the latest draft news
Last season's trade period's biggest stories – including the move of Adam Cerra from Fremantle to Carlton and Bobby Hill's trade request from Greater Western Sydney to Essendon – were covered in the series, which premiered earlier this year on the streaming service.
It also tracked young guns Nick Daicos, who was on his way to Collingwood as a father-son draftee, and North Melbourne's eventual No.1 pick Jason Horne-Francis through their draft campaigns as well as other prospects tied to the management companies. – Callum Twomey
SON OF FORMER BLUE, MAGPIE ROCKETS UP DRAFT RANKS
CARLTON and Collingwood will miss out on access to father-son prospect Olli Hotton, who has emerged mid-year as an exciting draft candidate.
Hotton is the son of former ruckman Trent, who played 61 games with the Blues and 17 with the Magpies between 1994-2002.
The 17-year-old has taken the eye in recent weeks playing for Vic Metro at the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships, booting two goals from 17 disposals against the Allies and then having 17 touches and kicking a goal against Western Australia.
His best game came last Sunday, however, when Hotton starred with 24 disposals, six inside-50 entries and 3.2 in Metro's win over South Australia where he enhanced his top-20 chances in front of recruiters.
He has speed and class and has spent his time playing in midfield and forward line at the Sandringham Dragons, where the 181cm draft hopeful started played at the beginning of the season before playing school football at Haileybury College under the coaching of Essendon champion Matthew Lloyd. – Callum Twomey