Hawthorn should let Buddy walk
Buddy Franklin led Hawthorn to a sensational win over Sydney earlier in 2013, a team he is reported to be joining in 2014 (AFL media/Slattery Images).
Hawthorn should take the hard line and offer Lance Franklin only what it can afford when they come together to negotiate his contract at the end of the season. If the Hawks deal doesn’t satisfy Buddy, they should let him walk.
This isn’t a regular opinion piece. It’s the view of a passionate Hawthorn member and supporter.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the sustained success, dominating performances and those two running goals down the wing against Essendon, but looking at it logically, a move makes sense for both parties.
Hawthorn has proven itself capable of winning (and winning well) without Franklin in the side. Since 2008 Alistair Clarkson has been tinkering with the formula and has slowly lessened the reliance on Buddy in the forward line.
This year the game plan has gone so far away from Franklin as the centerpiece, Buddy was accused of poor form, despite clearly filling the role Clarkson desired of him.
Given these changes, the reportedly more than $5 million offer, over five years, is far too exorbitant.
The most concerning aspect of these reports is the five years. The last Hawk key forward to sign a five year deal was Nick Holland.
While Franklin is clearly a superior player to Holland, he is an example of the fluctuations a player’s worth can take over five years, through injury and poor form.
I’ve been a staunch defender of Franklin’s off-field behaviour, but it’s impossible to deny it may also present a risk.
He has been forever linked to drama and problems away from the security of the club and, while much of it can be put down to rumour and innuendo, he always seems one misdemeanor away from disaster.
Is all that money worth the risk?
If Franklin moved on, the extra salary cap room created could set the club up for sustained success.
Hawthorn should chase Dale Thomas. Hard. They can use a slab of the Buddy cash to lure him from the Magpies. He is exactly the sort of goal-kicking, hard and fast running midfielder Hawthorn crave.
They have Isaac Smith filling that role very well this year, but, with no disrespect to Smith, Thomas is a step up in class from him.
With the leftover cash (and there will still be plenty) the Hawks should chase a young up-and-coming midfielder from one of the expansion sides. As those sides develop and become finals contenders, some quality is inevitably going to be squeezed out. Think Josh Caddy to Geelong.
Top of the wish list are Taylor Adams and Trent McKenzie.
The compensation draft selection(s) received from Franklin leaving and/or a trade with GWS become a bonus on top of these pick ups and further rejuvenate the playing list.
Letting Franklin leave will quickly transform in to a positive if handled correctly and used as the pivotal move in setting up the team’s on-field future.
These arguments will become even stronger if the Hawks can snare an 11th premiership this September.
If you had told any Hawthorn supporter in 2004 that their recruits, Franklin and his mates Jarryd Roughead and Jordan Lewis, would help take the team to football’s summit twice over their careers, we all would have taken that.