SUPERSTAR Nat Fyfe has ended months of free agency speculation and committed his long-term playing future to Fremantle, putting pen to paper on a lucrative six-year contract extension.
In a coup for the rebuilding Dockers, the 25-year-old captain has re-signed until the end of 2023 and seems certain to play out his career in purple.
It is believed Fyfe, who would have been a restricted free agent at season's end, will pocket at least $1-1.2 million per season under the terms of his new contract – which is the longest extension in the club's history.
"Fremantle has been my home since the start of my AFL career and to get some long-term security at the club is something that we've worked hard at," Fyfe said.
"I'm really quite excited to be part of a group that's starting to evolve.
"The actual negotiation process was really quick. For me, the delay in the decision was about being comfortable with signing a long-term deal.
"All the decisions were around the length of stay it was going to be. Six years is a long time.
"I come out as a 31, 32-year-old man, so to be comfortable with that decision and understand that – given the moving landscape of the AFL – I'm probably going to outlast most players and most coaches on the list currently.
"Once I got myself to a position where I was really comfortable to sign, it all happened really quickly."
Speculation that Fyfe might be lured away from the Dockers cooled recently, after he entered 2017 as one of the hottest prospective free agents on the market, alongside Richmond bull Dustin Martin.
Fyfe had been linked to several clubs – most strongly to St Kilda and Carlton - however the 2015 Brownlow medallist spoke passionately late last year about seeing his playing future at Fremantle.
He reiterated those comments when he assumed the captaincy from David Mundy in February, and, despite his manager Jason Dover admitting Fyfe "had a lot of interest" from rival clubs, he never seriously considered a move east.
"Other than the prospect wandering across my conscious, no real thought was put into moving to another club – and I can say that really genuinely," Fyfe said on Monday.
"All the speculation and what-not floated around was mostly untrue and it was quite interesting to watch.
"But Fremantle is in a great position, I think as any other club in the comp, with their facilities and the ability to play at this new (Perth) stadium.
"There's no other place I'd want to play my footy."
While the Fyfe admits his form has been "scratchy" this season coming back from a broken leg, the powerful midfielder is a key plank in Fremantle's future with the club in the early stages of a four-year rebuild.
"We’re absolutely thrilled as a football club to get this long term commitment from Nat," Fremantle list manager Brad Lloyd said.
"It was very clear throughout the process that Nat was firmly committed to staying at Fremantle.
"We feel that we have a really young exciting group coming through, who have come on throughout the 2017 season in particular.
"As captain, Nat is a key leader for those young players and the rest of the playing group, so it's a really pivotal step for where we're taking the club."
Fyfe had been playing with a bruised sternum until recently, and some wondered if he would get back to his explosive best.
But he put those fears to rest with a dominant display in round 16 against North Melbourne, when he picked up 33 touches, won 12 clearances and booted a goal in a gripping win.
Fyfe was also Freo's best player in Sunday's scrappy Western Derby loss to West Coast with 30 touches – 19 contested – and six clearances.
But the Lake Grace product believes he will return to his peak next year with another pre-season under his belt.
"I saw Roger Federer just won Wimbledon at 35. My hope is that I can still be in pretty good condition at 31, 32," Fyfe said.
"The year off that I had no doubt will help me at the back end of this contract phase – I'm already feeling the benefits of a year out of footy."
In his return to football this year, Fyfe is averaging 26 disposals per game, 14.3 contested possessions, 5.7 clearances and has booted 11 goals in 15 appearances.
In his Brownlow Medal-winning campaign he racked up 28.8 disposals, 17.8 contested, 8.7 clearances and kicked 17 majors. Originally taken with pick 20 in the 2009 NAB AFL Draft, the 190cm gun has played 132 matches and kicked 115 goals for Fremantle in a decorated career.
Fyfe has collected an array of individual awards – including Virgin Australia AFL All Australian honours, winning the AFLPA MVP and two Doig Medals – but delivering a first flag to Freo is his goal.
"I think we've got a group who are really willing to learn and aren't interested in waiting around for their careers to follow a natural trajectory," Fyfe said.
"Clearly, we want to deliver Fremantle their first premiership. It's a really lofty and ambitious goal.
"We’re all going to work as hard as we can towards that.".