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Out of favour: The players who will be at new clubs next year

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Roar Rookie
11th July, 2019
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2024 Reads

With seven rounds to go in the home-and-away season, there are still plenty of teams pushing for a finals berth.

As sides jostle for position in the eight, many list managers and recruiters will have already cast an eye towards 2020, and will look to reshape their sides’ lists in an effort to contend next season.

This list breaks down every club’s priority movement for the offseason, and which rival could poach an out of favour player.

Adelaide: Josh Jenkins

It has been widely publicised how Jenkins is on the outer at Adelaide, which was compounded by the fact he was dropped for six weeks, then missed a week due to injury.

He’s come back into the side and has performed well but, on the wrong side of 30, the Crows may opt to go younger depending on how the season pans out. Elliott Himmelberg has played half the season so far with little success, but the Crows may look to develop him over Jenkins next season.

Who would want him?
There was chatter Hawthorn were interested in Jenkins but, with a bottom six finish looming, the Hawks are unlikely to recruit a soon-to-be 31-year-old to replace 32-year-old Jarryd Roughead.

Melbourne may look at Jenkins to fill the void Jesse Hogan left. The Demons expected Tom McDonald and Sam Weideman to play as that one-two punch, but both have regressed significantly this year. Jenkins could help alleviate the pressure of the Melbourne forward line, which has struggled to produce big scores this season.

Brisbane: Lewis Taylor

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Taylor had a roaring start to his career, which included edging out Marcus Bontempelli to win the Rising Star, and played 107 games of a possible 110 since debuting in 2014.

Despite this, Taylor has fallen out of favour in 2019, not featuring in the senior side until Round 6. He was then dropped after two matches for a fortnight, before returning for another brief three-week stint. Since then, Taylor has been plying his trade in the NEAFL, with the younger, more exciting Lions passing him by.

A move back home to Victoria may help reignite Taylor’s stagnant career.

Who would want him?
If Orazio Fantasia ends up back in South Australia, Taylor could be a like-for-like replacement at the Bombers. A small forward with a nose for goal, he’d need to improve his defensive pressure in the forward half of the ground to help fill the gap Fantasia would create.

Carlton’s forward line is almost too tall with Charlie Curnow, Harry McKay and Levi Casboult all spending time there, so Taylor could slot in at their feet and would also get time further up the ground.

Carlton: Andrew Phillips

Only 39 games in his eight-year career so far, Phillips has struggled to get regular time in the senior side at Carlton. With only three games in 2019, Phillips is out of contract and may look elsewhere for consistent games.

Primarily a ruck, Phillips has a nice pair of hands and a sweet boot, meaning he has the ability to swing forward if required. Matthew Kreuzer is only two years older than Phillips, and is the established ruck at Carlton in career-best form.

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Who would want him?
It sounds silly to say, but he may end up back at the team who drafted him: GWS. The Giants picked him up in the rookie draft and he managed 14 games in the Orange and Charcoal before moving to Carlton.

With Mumford beginning to tire around the halfway point of the season, the Giants may look to a younger option to take over the ruck burden. They still have Dawson Simpson on the books, but he may not get another contract in Canberra after the 2019 season.

Carlton ruckman Matthew Kreuzer.

Carlton ruckman Matthew Kreuzer is mobbed by Blues team-mates after booting a goal. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Collingwood: Brayden Sier

The hard-nosed midfielder fought his way into the senior side at Collingwood, debuting in Round 15 of 2018 and playing every game but one. Come 2019, Sier has only managed four games so far, all coming after Round 12.

Out of contract at the end of the season, Sier would command big money at a team desperate for big-bodied inside midfielders. The only kicker is that Sier’s contract includes a one-year extension clause if he plays ten games this year.

Who would want him?
He wouldn’t have to travel too far to find a side interested in him. Hawthorn has been linked with the youngster, however next season they’ll have Tom Mitchell back from his injury, as well as James Worpel who’s developed nicely in Mitchell’s absence.

Essendon would benefit most from Sier’s talents, though. A side without a genuine in-and-under midfielder, Sier would slot in and play a pivotal role while Shiel, Merrett and Heppell remain somewhat on the outside.

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Essendon: Sam Draper

St Kilda has publicly targeted the untried ruckman already, but Draper could have many suitors. It’d be beneficial to Essendon to try to hold onto the injured big man, despite his ACL injury. He was performing well in his first year at the club, with strong performances in the VFL. Tom Bellchambers has become more injury prone as his career heads towards the finish line, and Draper is ready to fill that role.

Who would want him?
St Kilda have allegedly offered Draper a four-year contract in the region of $800,000 a year, despite the ruckman recovering from an ACL and never having played an AFL-level match before.

Essendon have reportedly asked for top-end draft picks from the Saints, and with Adrian Dodoro conducting the negotiations, the Bombers have a realistic chance to cash in on the ruckman.

Fremantle: Harley Bennell

The injury-prone Docker has had a cruel career so far. Repeated calf injuries during his time at Fremantle, coupled with run-ins with the police in both Perth and on the Gold Coast, Bennell has struggled to feature in many AFL games.

Ross Lyon has already conceded Bennell’s time at the club is likely up, after suffering a torn calf in his latest outing for Peel in the WAFL.

Harley Bennell Fremantle Dockers AFL 2016

Harley Bennell of the Dockers. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

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Who would want him?
Whilst it is unlikely for a club to jump on a player who has managed two senior games in four years, Bennell is the sort of talent that is looked at, regardless of recent injury history.

Carlton may look at Bennell at the end of the year as an inexpensive risk, however significant medical tests would have to be conducted as part of their due diligence. If he can get his body right, Bennell would be a great player in a young side.

Geelong: Nakia Cockatoo

Cockatoo slotted into the Geelong side, with the exciting youngster debuting in Round 1, 2015. He played 11 games in his first year, however each season since debuting has been plagued with injury.

Only managing two games in 2018, and currently sidelined since then, Cockatoo needs to return from his knee injury and feature in the senior side before the end of the season if he wants another contract to remain at the Cats in 2020.

Who would want him?
A return home to Queensland could be on the cards, especially if he doesn’t receive a contract extension at season’s end. Brisbane probably doesn’t need another outside midfielder, and may prefer to develop the talent already at the club.

However, Gold Coast is crying out for quality players who want to play, and stay, at the club. If Jack Martin is moving on as many expect, Cockatoo may well be a ready-made replacement.

Gold Coast: Sam Day

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The versatile key position player has had a recent run in the senior side, but despite the lack of quality bigs at the Suns, Day finds himself on the outer. Peter Wright is the preferred number one key forward, while the backline has been filled with a combination of Jack Hombsch, Chris Burgess, Charlie Ballard and Sam Collins.

Three games this season so far, on top of 12 in 2018 after his gruesome dislocated hip injury, Day may explore free agency to continue his career.

Who would want him?
Hawthorn are desperate for players to fill key position posts at either end, with Jarryd Roughead likely to retire after this season and James Frawley needing help as he gets older. Tim O’Brien and Kaiden Brand are young and still far from their peaks, while Jack Gunston has been quiet this season.

Mitch Lewis looks the goods, but is still a few years away from being consistent each week, and Jackson Ross has looked great in the VFL but is untried in the seniors. 27 next season, Day offers that flexibility in the role he plays, while also being in the optimal age bracket for Alastair Clarkson to target.

Greater Western Sydney: Jonathon Patton

The lumbering Giant is recovering from his third ACL injury, and in his absence since Round 16 last season, GWS have developed a potent forward line with Jeremy Cameron, Harry Himmelberg and Jeremy Finlayson being the lead up targets.

Patton has one year left on an expensive contract, and the Giants should look to move him in order to afford players coming out of contract in the next two years like Stephen Coniglio, Lachie Whitfield and Tim Taranto.

Who would want him?
Hawthorn have been heavily linked to the out of favour Full Forward. He would have offered them a replacement for Jarryd Roughead, but don’t expect the Hawks to pay top dollar for Patton. It’s most likely that GWS would pay part of the salary, similar to the trade that saw Tom Scully get to Hawthorn. The Hawks would back their highly successful medical team to have Patton back at full health by the start of 2020.

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Hawthorn: Isaac Smith

The outside runner isn’t necessarily on the outer at the club, however Clarkson may look to cash in on the ageing star. On the wrong side of thirty, Smith has struggled to impact matches in the way he has in previous seasons, and with the Hawks seemingly out of contention, he may be moved on.

Who would want him?
Both Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs have had success in poaching premiership Hawks once Clarkson has finished with them. Jordan Lewis has been somewhat successful at the Demons, but he’s spent some time in the VFL this season, while the Bulldogs have Matt Suckling and Taylor Dureya on their list.

Both sides would benefit from Smith’s run, and both sides have been linked to him so far this season. Melbourne would benefit more from his play style, as they are currently a bit too one-paced.

Melbourne: Oscar McDonald

The key defender had found himself a role in Melbourne’s back half as they tried to rebuild. In last season’s finals run, McDonald featured in every game of the season. However, he has found himself in the VFL when new recruits Jake Lever and Steven May are playing, while Sam Frost is rated higher as a second key back.

He’s still contracted through to 2020, but if he finds himself out of the side for long he may start to look elsewhere.

Who would want him?
The Western Bulldogs have had success with the experiment in moving Aaron Naughton forward, which has left a void partly filled by Jackson Trengove. However, another tall is required with Dale Morris likely retiring at season’s end. McDonald would be a ready-made player who would be relatively cheap if he isn’t a required player.

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Port Adelaide: Paddy Ryder

Ryder has been a valuable contributor for several years at the Power. However, a recent dry spell of form has seen him relegated to the SANFL. In this time we have seen Scott Lycett come into his own and dominate as the solo ruck.

With Ryder on the wrong side of 30, he could look to move on as Port prioritises a Lycett/Westhoff/Dixon trio.

Who would want him?
Geelong have been juggling a number of average ruckman, with Rhys Stanley, Zac Smith, Ryan Abbott and Darcy Fort all getting an opportunity to impress over the last two seasons.

With Geelong right in their premiership window, they may look to bolster their side with a relatively cheap, out of favour ruckman who still has the ability to compete at a high capacity.

Paddy Ryder

Paddy Ryder celebrates a goal in Port Adelaide’s win over West Coast at Optus Stadium in Round 5. (Will Russell/AFL Photos/Getty Images)

Richmond: Jacob Townsend

Townsend has had a stop-start career at the Tigers, managing 48 games over eight seasons. With only one match to his name in 2019, Townsend may struggle to get a contract extension at Punt Road for next season.

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Who would want him?
If the rumours of Papley moving to North Melbourne at the end of the season are true, Townsend may end up providing Sydney with some immediate assistance in a small forward role. The Swans are in a bit of a limbo state, as they are getting younger while still trying to contend, but the 26-year-old Tiger could slot into the somewhat dysfunctional Swans forward line and sit at the feet of Buddy Franklin and Sam Reid.

St Kilda: David Armitage

The 30-year-old has had a storied career at St Kilda, but suffered some serious injuries, which has derailed his last three seasons. Since returning, Armitage has struggled to break into a St Kilda side that has placed a preference in younger talent as they are no longer in a position to contend.

As an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, Armitage has free rein on where he will end up, with the Saints not possessing the ability to match rival teams’ offers.

Who would want him?
Before he was injured, Armitage proved to be a superb inside midfielder, averaging 28.4 disposals a game in 2015. Carlton are desperate for an inside midfielder to help shoulder the burden with star Patrick Cripps, and the St Kilda veteran could at least help out as the Blues continue to develop their younger talent.

Sydney: Lance Franklin

Buddy was once the biggest free agent signing in AFL history when he signed a 9-year, $10 million contract.

Now at 32 years old, the superstar forward’s body is starting to fail him, with Buddy missing large chunks of each of the last two seasons due to different ailments. John Longmire conceded last season that Buddy hadn’t run all season, and his fitness was purely due to swimming and cycling.

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With three years left on his monster contract, the Swans may look to offload the star as they try free up some money.

Who would want him?
The real question is actually: who wouldn’t want him? Buddy may be old, but can be one of the most dangerous forwards in the competition when he’s on.

Not only would he provide a side with star power, the revenue made from extra ticket sales and Buddy memorabilia would skyrocket. A side like the Western Bulldogs, who currently are without a star forward after Tom Boyd retired, would benefit greatly from taking on at least part of Buddy’s contract.

West Coast: Chris Masten

Masten has been a valued player at the Eagles for the better part of a decade. In that time, the 208 game player has played in two grand finals and won once, in 2018.

However, the midfielder will turn 31 before the 2020 season starts, and he would be one of the first veterans to be moved on if the Eagles want to regenerate their list as they try to stay in contention. Masten is an elite runner and a hard-working midfielder, so he should be able to find a home anywhere.

Who would want him?
A move to cross-town rivals Fremantle might despise a player who’s featured in over a decade’s worth of Derby’s, but it may be just the perfect fit for him. Fremantle have struggled to win contested ball after Lachie Neale departed for Brisbane last season, and Nat Fyfe needs some assistance. With Fremantle on the cusp of contending, a mature body may be enough to get them over the line.

Western Bulldogs: Lin Jong

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Jong has become part of the furniture at Whitten Oval in the past few seasons, and his attempts to be part of grand final day despite carrying a broken collarbone are well known by many. Despite this, Jong’s career has stagnated, and he’s struggling to get a game at the Bulldogs.

He’s still got one year left on his contract before he’s a restricted free agent, but the Bulldogs may look to move him if he’s no longer a part of their plans.

Who would want him?
The Blues could use his explosiveness, whether he slotted in to a running half back role, on the wing or in the guts. Jong’s a tough-as-nails competitor, and the Blues would not only increase their level of ability, his attitude would help with the competitive culture that Carlton is trying to form.

With Kade Simpson, Dale Thomas and Marc Murphy all coming towards the ends of their stellar careers, Jong could help be a part of the new wave of Carlton players.