The Roar
The Roar


AFL trade rumours update: The great compensation debate

13th October, 2015
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After the first day of trade period saw a number of deals done, day two was a bit of a let down as we all waited anxiously for, well, nothing in the end.

The only real piece of news all day was the most controversial, as the AFL informed Brisbane that, if they choose not to match the offer Matthew Leuenberger accepted from Essendon on Monday, they will receive only a pick at the end of the second round as compensation for his departure.

At the moment that would be pick 38 but with the Eagles and the Hawks also expected to gain compensation picks, it would slide back to at least pick 40.

The Lions would have been confident of receiving at least a pick immediately after their current second rounder, which would have been pick 22, and are not happy with the AFL’s decision.

“He was a first-round draft pick and at his best a strong contender for All Australian selection, so we would expect better than what we have been offered as compensation,” Lions CEO Greg Swann said.

“It’s a matter of fairness and consistency. Given what has happened in recent years in relation to compensation picks, we would have thought that we’d have received something in the second round rather than at the end of it.”

Because of that the Lions are now considering their position and may wind up matching the offer from Essendon in an attempt to force a trade and get something better in return for Leuenberger.

Pick 40 after all is not much chop but the Lions might able to swing pick 23 away from the Bombers, or perhaps a different pick around the same mark depending on how their deals for Jake Melksham and Jake Carlisle pan out.

For me the whole saga highlights the problems the AFL is going through with the free agency compensation system.


I’ve never been a fan of compensation picks for losing free agents, mostly for the reason that they aren’t really compensation picks, they’re incentivisation picks.

It’s essentially become a case of clubs believing that if you push your free agents out the door, you can get a better-than-market-value return for them through AFL hand-outs.

In the first two years of free agency, compensation was relatively reasonable. No one was awarded anything better than pick 11, and the only players who attracted first round picks were Brendon Goddard and Dale Thomas – both accomplished players in their own right.

Then in 2014, the AFL opened Pandora’s box. Melbourne asked for a priority pick and the AFL wasn’t willing to give them one – at least, they weren’t willing to call it a priority pick. But when James Frawley left the Dees they were happy to give them pick 3 in ‘compensation’.

It was a bit of a joke and it has taught clubs that all you need to do to be massively overcompensated for a free agent departure is make some sad puppy dog eyes while quietly telling said free agents to get lost.

Carlton were reportedly considering the same move with Matthew Kreuzer when they thought it would earn them pick 2 in this year’s draft. And the Lions were originally hopeful that Leuenberger would earn them a first-rounder also. Both clubs asked for priority picks this year, following the Melbourne pattern.

The AFL however seems to have realised its mistake and has now drastically toughened up on free agency compensation – it now looks like you’ll have to lose a bonafide superstar to earn a first rounder, and even serviceable players like Selwood, Suckling and Leuenberger will provide little return.

It’s probably for the best. Clubs will be upset but hopefully they will learn that free agency isn’t a vending machine where you push in an average player and out falls a high draft pick.


That said, the fact that the AFL is willing to let the Lions know what kind of compensation they’re in line for before they even make their decision suggests to me they haven’t fully learned their lesson yet.

If it was up to me I’d get rid of compensation picks altogether and tell clubs they should work harder to retain their players – the “shoot ’em all and let God sort ’em out” approach – but the AFL’s current system may eventually work out also.

Anyway, enough time on the soapbox! Let’s get into the trade rumours. There may not have been any movements yesterday, but there was still the odd piece of news springing up here and there.

Where Jeremy Howe wants to go isn’t clear yet but a number of potential deals are showing up. With Melbourne keen to secure Collingwood’s Ben Kennedy, a straight swap could be on the cards if Howe nominates the Magpies.

Alternatively, it’s believed the Gold Coast Suns are willing to offer the Demons a swap of first round picks, which would see Melbourne move from pick 6 to pick 3, if Howe decides to join them.

It was expected that the Demons and the Bombers would close a deal for Jake Melksham for pick 25 yesterday, but nothing came of this. Not sure why, but perhaps the rumoured deal isn’t as set in stone as once thought.

Negotiations between Carlton and Richmond for Chris Yarran are going nowhere fast, the Blues are insisting on a first round pick but Richmond aren’t willing to put their pick 12 on the table.

The Tigers are looking around for a later first round pick to make the trade work but it’s not clear how they’re planning to obtain it.


Richmond are also looking to secure Greater Western Sydney’s Jacob Townsend and it’s believed that a trade has been all but finalised, however it’s not likely to be confirmed until after the Yarran deal is sorted out with that being a higher priority for the Tigers.

Adelaide’s Sam Kerridge is being targeted by Carlton who are offering him a three-year deal. Kerridge has been impressive in his past appearances at AFL level, but managed only one game this season and might consider the move in search of greater oppportunity.

Fremantle are reportedly interested in recruiting Carlton’s Levi Casboult, but only in the event that a deal for Cam McCarthy falls through.

The Giants aren’t willing to put Adam Tomlinson on the trade table, but his manager has said he’s no guarantee to still be at the club in 2016, with offers on the table from Victorian clubs including Carlton.

Graeme Allen, the Giants’ General Manager of Football, said yesterday that a number of Victorian clubs were interested in Treloar and he was no guarantee to get to Collingwood.

He continued the Giants’ insistence that there would be no trade for Cam McCarthy, but admitted the likes of Tomas Bugg, Curtly Hampton, Lachie Plowman, Jed Lamb, Andrew Phillips and Liam Sumner were all likely to leave.

Dawson Simpson is looking more and more likely to sign with Greater Western Sydney as a free agent, but the Giants say they’re still looking at a number of ruckmen as support options for Shane Mumford.

Collingwood have reportedly shown some interest in both Blake Acres and Ahmed Saad from St Kilda, in what to me feels a bit like an attempt at getting revenge on the Saints for luring Nathan Freeman. I’m surprised Eddie McGuire hasn’t declared war on anything yet.


And speaking of Collingwood, Nathan Buckley sent out the below tweet yesterday.

A meaningful wink in the direction of Brisbane and Greater Western Sydney is heavily implied.

Richmond are reportedly interested in securing Port Adelaide midfielder Andrew Moore. No strong word yet on where Port’s Aaron Young may wind up.

Jed Anderson’s fate remains uncertain as the Hawks are still intent on retaining him if possible, and he hasn’t nominated a destination yet. If he does the Hawks are reportedly looking for a pick around the 20-25 mark.

Rival clubs are reportedly interested in North Melbourne’s Brad McKenzie, who played only one game this year, but which clubs these are isn’t clear.

Adelaide’s Matt Crouch was the subject of some trade rumours but he is staying put, signing a three-year deal with the Crows that will lock him away through till the end of 2018.