The Adelaide Crows are readying a war chest in an effort to retain star midfielder, Patrick Dangerfield.
‘Danger’ has yet to make his mind up about his future, with some labelling the Round 23 match between the Crows and Cats as ‘The Dangerfield Cup’.
Both clubs are set to go head-to-head in the post-season to secure the signature of the year’s biggest free agent.
Last year, the Melbourne Demons offered picks two and three for Dangerfield, and Adelaide flatly refused, although there was one dissenting voice who thought it viable to ‘get what they can for him’, but the majority stood firm and Dangerfield stayed.
Geelong on the other hand believes that by front-ending a five-year deal they can blow the Crows out of the water. That is a big mistake.
The ‘no one gets more than Joel Selwood’ rule is another mistake. Selwood is paid somewhere between $650,000 and $775,000. They would have to pay significantly more than that just to get a look in at Dangerfield, and given every player has bought into that rule, it makes it difficult to see how they could go after Dangerfield.
Heading into post-season negotiation, Dangerfield knows this will likely be the biggest payday of his AFL career.
As a ‘restricted’ free agent Adelaide can match any offer for Dangerfield and make a stand against something that all 18 clubs despise – a free agency rule that returns very little for an investment that takes a great deal of time and money.
It is important to remember though that no club has chosen to forcibly retain a player by matching an offer for a restricted free agent.
But it is no secret how angry the Crows have been in losing four key players in the last five years. The losses of Nathan Bock (Gold Coast), Phil Davis (GWS), Jack Gunston (Hawthorn) and Kurt Tippett (Sydney) have stymied Adelaide’s progress and that adds fuel to a raging fire that is hell bent on keeping Dangerfield.
Patrick loves the Adelaide football club, he loves the thought of being a one club player, and the leadership he has shown since the Phil Walsh tragedy has been noticed by fans, commentators and clubs alike.
And on the field he has shone.
But there is one thing that drives him more than anything else; he, like all AFL players, craves a premiership medal.
This, as much as money, will weigh on his mind at season’s end. He needs to decide where he is most likely to win one.
A team on the rise with a young talented list, or an ageing team who need to rebuild before going around again – this is the contrasting futures on offer at the Crows and the Cats.
Only one other club could possibly offer a contract over $1 million and thats Collingwood – a team which is openly chasing some of the AFL’s other out-of-contract young guns.
They have quietly been watching from a distance but could be the wild card in the pack.