L-R: Jack Bowes, Jayden Hunt, Mason Wood. Pictures: AFL Photos

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.


GOLD Coast is set to dangle pick No.7 as the draft sweetener for clubs vying to take on Jack Bowes and the two remaining years on his contract.

Bowes is signed through to the end of 2024 on a heavily back-ended deal, with the former top-10 pick and Suns Academy product open to a move to a new club.

The Suns are also embarking on a proactive reset of their salary cap position and will use their strong draft hand to entice rivals to take on players. 

It means clubs such as Hawthorn, St Kilda, Geelong and Essendon, who have all shown interest in Bowes, would also be in line to land the extra draft capital as part of the deal to take the versatile Sun's contract off their books. 

Jack Bowes in action during the VFL preliminary final between Gold Coast and Southport at Fankhauser Reserve on September 11, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

AFL.com.au revealed this week that the AFL will approve more aggressive 'salary dumps' as clubs reallocate their cap payments. It is a move that would allow clubs who have salary space to use the money to bolster their draft hands. Money moves are set to become the new normal in the AFL trading landscape as clubs weigh the salary cap price of buying a draft pick. 

Gold Coast has gun pair Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell as important re-signing targets next year but will also position itself to be ready to entice key players and free agency options in coming years, with the salary cap moves to create a pay buffer. The Suns are expected to land pick No.5 in this year's draft from Adelaide as part of a deal for exciting goalkicker Izak Rankine

Bowes played five games this season, for a total of 83 at the club, after a shoulder injury in the pre-season. – Callum Twomey 



MELBOURNE'S Jayden Hunt faces an uncertain future with the free agent remaining unsigned for next year.   

Hunt is an unrestricted free agent and played 20 games for the Demons this season, including their two finals. He also played 20 games in 2021 and was unlucky to miss out on the club's premiership win last year after injuring his ankle late in Melbourne's campaign.

He is without a contract for 2023. West Coast has a level of interest in Hunt and given his free agency status he could leave and join any club without a trade being enacted. 

The 27-year-old's speed, run and carry is his weapon and he was instrumental in the Demons' round 22 win over Carlton with a season-high 19 disposals and several key moments late in the game.

Jayden Hunt attempts to break a Deven Robertson tackle during the semi-final between Melbourne and Brisbane at the MCG on September 9, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Melbourne pair Jake Melksham, who played in Casey Demons' VFL premiership win last Sunday, and Michael Hibberd are out of contract but likely to win extensions. 

Adam Tomlinson could be looked at by clubs as a ready-to-go backman given he has dropped down the pecking order of defenders at the Demons, with the key defender conveyer belt in swing among clubs looking to bolster their stocks.

Tomlinson would likely be open to a move if an opportunity arose but he has two years to go on his deal at Melbourne, having joined the club as a free agent at the end of 2019. – Callum Twomey


ST KILDA is set to reward Mason Wood for the most productive season of his career with a new deal for 2023.

The 29-year-old played a career-high 19 games under Brett Ratten this year, predominantly on a wing after only managing nine appearances in 2021.

Wood's management, Hemisphere Management, has been finalising an extension with Saints list boss James Gallagher since the end of the season, with an announcement imminent. 

Mason Wood celebrates a goal during the round 22 clash between St Kilda and Brisbane on August 12, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

The Victorian kicked four goals in his most recent appearance in round 22, requiring only seven more games to reach 100 after being delisted by North Melbourne at the end of 2020. 

Ryan Byrnes also has a contract for next season after reaching an agreement with the club earlier in the year.

The 21-year-old was named in the 23 on 11 occasions this year, but was the unused medi-sub five times. – Josh Gabelich


SYDNEY star Tom Papley will be one of the hottest free agents in the competition next year.

The Swans goalkicker has enjoyed a career-best season as his shift into more midfield time has seen his impact increase and his goalkicking output remain strong.

But the 25-year-old, who is a pre-agent in 2022 and will be a major player in Saturday's Grand Final against Geelong, isn't in a rush to sign a mega extension like his captain Callum Mills.


Mills this month took his name off next year's free agency list before even getting into 2023 by signing a new six-year deal through to the end of 2029.

Mills was among a raft of re-signings for the Swans, along with Tom McCartin (through to 2027), Paddy McCartin (2024) and Robbie Fox (2024).

Papley is signed through to the end of 2023, when he will be a restricted free agent. 

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"It's obviously huge that 'Millsy' signed on and a lot of boys have signed on recently which is nice," Papley told AFL.com.au. "I've still got next year to go so we'll probably come into talks at the end of the year and next year so I'm looking forward to that."

The 2021 All-Australian forward attempted a move to Carlton in 2019 but while under contract was held to his deal at Sydney. – Callum Twomey


NORTH MELBOURNE will wait until after this season's trade and draft period before filling its vacant list management and recruiting roles.

The club has restructured its list management team following the departure of three key recruiting personnel earlier this year and is now set to wait until the summer before identifying and hiring replacements.

Long-time national recruiting boss Mark Finnigan, head of player personnel Glenn Luff and national recruiting officer Ben Birthisel all left the club in May, forcing the Kangaroos to heavily reshape their recruiting team for the remainder of the year.

Glenn Luff (left) and Mark Finnigan at the 2021 NAB AFL Draft. Picture: AFL Photos

List boss Brady Rawlings has taken on additional scouting work ahead of the draft alongside veteran recruiter Scott Clayton, while the club has also elevated interstate talent spotters Corry Bewick and Brett Sclanders into expanded positions.

The club expects to retain that list management team throughout the trade and draft period, before filling the vacant roles in the months afterwards.

TRADE HUB All the latest player movement news

North Melbourne is facing another pivotal off-season as it continues its list rebuild. As revealed by AFL.com.au, Fremantle pair Darcy Tucker and Griffin Logue have nominated the Roos as their preferred new homes this trade period. 

As flagged in Inside Trading last month, the club will also field offers for the first selection at the draft having claimed Jason Horne-Francis with the No.1 pick last season. – Riley Beveridge


CARLTON has spoken with former Irish recruit Ciaran Byrne around a potential shock return to Ikon Park, but will weigh up a host of factors before pressing ahead with its pursuits to lure the defender back to Australia.

Discussions with the Blues are said to have only been preliminary talks, with multiple dynamics still left for the club to consider given the former Category B rookie hasn't played at AFL level for well over four years.

Byrne, who is currently playing Gaelic football for County Louth after returning to Ireland at the end of the 2018 season, revealed this week that he is considering a surprise AFL comeback at the age of 27.

Highly rated internally at the Blues, the dashing defender played 22 games over five seasons before cutting short his time in Australia with one year remaining on his contract due to persistent knee and hamstring injuries.

Ciaran Byrne during the R21 match between Carlton and Fremantle at Optus Stadium on August 12, 2018. Picture: AFL Photos

However, having regained his fitness in his homeland and enjoyed a strong four seasons of Gaelic football with County Louth, Byrne told Irish media that an AFL return with Carlton was back on the cards.

"It is something I am considering at this stage. I'm 27 now, definitely getting on. Don't get me wrong, I love GAA. (But) I have a bit of a decision to make … it is an option and it is something I have to consider and see where it takes me," Byrne said.

The news of Byrne's potential return follows that of Essendon's former Irish recruit Conor McKenna from last month, with the running defender attracting interest from Geelong after quitting the AFL and returning home in 2020. – Riley Beveridge


OUT-OF-CONTRACT Gold Coast forward Chris Burgess is attracting interest from rival clubs after struggling to play regular senior football in 2022. 

Burgess played 19 games last year – for a total of 35 across four years at the Suns – but managed only two appearances this season, following the arrival of Mabior Chol and Levi Casboult. 

It is understood that Burgess has been offered a deal to remain at Gold Coast next season after kicking 63 goals in the VFL – including 11 in three finals – to win the Jim 'Frosty' Miller Medal and selection at full-forward in the team of the year. 


But with young gun Ben King scheduled to return from a knee reconstruction in round one, the 26-year-old is weighing up his options before re-committing to another season at Metricon Stadium. 

Josh Corbett is also out of contract and hasn’t been offered a new deal by the Suns, but isn’t expecting to remain at the club. 

Much like Burgess, the 26-year-old has struggled for opportunities this year, managing four appearances after 16 in 2021, but three clubs have expressed interest in the 190cm mobile forward. 

The Victorian kicked 25 goals in the VFL after battling a hip injury in the first half of the season, flying home in the closing months of the season to attract recruiters to Gold Coast reserves games late in the year. 

Clubs are monitoring his situation closely and continuing to enquire about his services for 2023. - Josh Gabelich


CLUBS are monitoring Port Melbourne defender Ethan Phillips ahead of this year's draft period, with his AFL hopes bolstered by being crowned the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal winner last week.

The award's recipient, who is annually recognised as the most promising young talent in the VFL, has ultimately been drafted to an AFL list for 15 consecutive seasons dating back to 2008.

Phillips is hoping to make it 16 straight times later this year, with the 196cm intercept defender enjoying an outstanding campaign with Port Melbourne where he averaged 19.6 disposals and 9.8 marks per game.

Ethan Phillips with the 2022 Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal during the VFL and VFLW Awards Night at Crown on September 12, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Williamstown defender Charlie Dean claimed the award last season before being drafted to Collingwood, while premiership players like Michael Hibberd, Kane Lambert and Bayley Fritsch, as well as All-Australians like Luke Ryan, are also fellow winners.

The 23-year-old Phillips attracted some interest during this year's NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft, but is hopeful traction among clubs will continue to gather momentum ahead of November's national and rookie drafts.

DRAFT HUB Click here for the latest draft news

"There's been a little bit of talk, but it's mainly going through my management at the moment. I've just got to wait and see how things are sitting after the Trade Period," Phillips told AFL.com.au.

"Hopefully, there are clubs that are interested and in need of a key defender. (But) I feel like even if I missed out, I could get a chance to train-on with a club. I'd be pretty confident in my ability to show enough and then get signed on." – Riley Beveridge