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AFL Trades 2019 report card: Every club graded

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16th October, 2019
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The 2019 AFL Trade Period is over, and it’s time to rate the 18 AFL clubs’ performances.

Yesterday we asked for your help to vote on grades for each club. Today we bring you those results, plus my own personal analysis, grades and summaries of each club’s trade period activity.

ADELAIDE CROWS

Players
In Out
Billy Frampton Alex Keath
Hugh Greenwood
Eddie Betts
Sam Jacobs
Cam Ellis-Yolmen
Josh Jenkins
1 player 6 players
2019 picks
In Out
37
45
49
1117 DVI 0 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
Gold Coast’s Round 4 Round 3
Carlton’s Round 4
~352 DVI ~339 DVI

The Crows moved six wantaway players out the club, but while that’s an alarming number, a glance at the actual list of names on the way out is much less panic-provoking.

Aside from Cam Ellis-Yolmen, who has only ever been a fringe player at the club, everyone on the way out here is 28 or older, with Eddie Betts and Sam Jacobs in particular very near the end of their careers.

Adelaide’s pride will be a little wounded by the fact they’re paying two of their former players in Betts and Jenkins to play for rival clubs in 2020.

They didn’t have any great level of success in trying to get good value for the departures either, only scraping in a couple of third-rounders.

Probably about the best the club could have been expected to manage under difficult circumstances and didn’t lose anyone they couldn’t afford to. But unavoidably disappointing.

The Crowd’s Grade: F (34 per cent)
My Grade: D

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BRISBANE LIONS

Players
In Out
Callum Ah Chee Lewis Taylor
Cam Ellis-Yolmen Tom Cutler
Grant Birchall
3 players 2 players
2019 picks
In Out
48 46
52 91
72
567 DVI 331 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
Essendon’s Round 3 Round 2
Round 4
~339 DVI ~597 DVI

The Lions let a big-bodied mid and a quality runner in Tom Cutler and Lewis Taylor walk out the door, and got back two players not too dissimilar by signing Cam Ellis-Yolmen and Callum Ah Chee.

Ellis-Yolmen will provide a nice point of difference in the midfield to smaller mids like Lachie Neale and Jarryd Lyons. Maybe he is in their best 22, maybe he becomes Brisbane’s first-choice replacement.

Ah Chee has been targeted to provide some speed and good ball use off halfback. He hasn’t starred in his time at AFL level so far, but is worth the roll of the dice.

Birchall has only played 11 games in three years so if he has any real impact at all for the Lions it’ll be a win, and something of a surprise.

Overall nothing paradigm-shifting here, but some reasonably tidy business. Didn’t really address their pressing need for marking power in the forward line.

The Crowd’s Grade: C (45 per cent)
My Grade: C

CARLTON BLUES

Players
In Out
Eddie Betts Andrew Phillips
Marc Pittonet
2 players 1 player
2019 picks
In Out
57 68
70 72
221 DVI 321 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
Round 4
0 DVI ~176 DVI
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Secured an emotional homecoming for Eddie Betts and managed to swap out their back-up ruckman for a somewhat younger back-up ruckman, but it’s the deals they didn’t get done that they’ll be judged by.

The Blues won the favour of both Tom Papley and Jack Martin in this trade period but couldn’t get either deal across the line, and the dream of a new mosquito fleet is in tatters.

Papley will need to stay on the shelf until next year and possibly longer as he remains contracted to the Swans for another four seasons.

Martin could still arrive at the club via the draft, but Carlton – and Martin – will need to endure a nervous wait over the next six weeks to find out for sure.

Odds are they’ll probably be able to snap him up virtually free there, which would be a winning outcome in isolation, but the inability to get deals done may damage Carlton’s reputation with future trade targets.

The Crowd’s Grade: F (37 per cent)
My Grade: F

Eddie Betts

(AAP Image/Michael Dodge)

COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES

Players
In Out
Darcy Cameron James Aish
1 player 1 player
2019 picks
In Out
62 56
69
123 DVI 243 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
St Kilda’s Round 2 Round 3
St Kilda’s Round 4
~1040 DVI ~253 DVI
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Felt the effects of last year’s ill-advised Dayne Beams trade this year in two ways, finding themselves both under increasing salary cap pressure as well as without any high picks in this year’s draft.

They moved on James Aish to help relieve some of the former, and without knowing their exact situation it’s hard to say whether they’ve done enough – but it’s a start.

Got what could be a decent return next year for Aish’s departure, depending on how the Saints go in 2020, but weren’t able to improve their draft position this year.

Darcy Cameron had a few suitors so to win him across is good. Will be a back-up option in case of Brodie Grundy emergency, but for him to have an impact up forward would be a (pleasant) surprise.

Clearly face a significant task over the next 12 months to re-sign three critical players in Grundy, Jordan De Goey and Darcy Moore.

The Crowd’s Grade: C (53 per cent)
My Grade: C

ESSENDON BOMBERS

Players
In Out
Tom Culter
Andrew Phillips
2 players 0 players
2019 picks
In Out
33 37
61 52
64 70
799 DVI 768 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
Round 3
0 DVI ~339 DVI

Got the big-bodied midfielder and back-up ruckman they were looking for in the form of Tom Cutler and Andrew Phillips respectively, at the cost only of taking a small hit to their 2020 draft position.

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However it’s obviously the decision not to trade Joe Daniher to Sydney, as he had requested, that will be the biggest story to come out Essendon’s off-season.

One of the most reliably divisive clubs in the league will prove to be so yet again with reactions to the decision to hold Daniher to his contract sure to run the gamut from exhilaration to outrage.

Leaving the human element aside, Daniher simply couldn’t be replaced on Essendon’s list and they’ve given themselves the best chance of being a contender in 2020 by retaining him.

Whether he’s any more or less valuable 12 months from now is completely up in the air, but the balance of probability is in Essendon’s favour there.

The Crowd’s Grade: C (33 per cent)
My Grade: B

FREMANTLE DOCKERS

Players
In Out
Blake Acres Brad Hill
James Aish Ed Langdon
2 players 2 players
2019 picks
In Out
10 26
22
58
79
2410 DVI 729 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
Melbourne’s Round 2 Round 3
Collingwood’s Round 3 Round 4
~1117 DVI ~614 DVI

Missed the chance to get pick 6 in the door for Brad Hill depending on who you listen to, but instead held out for a package deal that includes Blake Acres coming back the other way and a diverse bounty of draft picks.

Lost their two go-to wingers in Hill and Ed Langdon but got back two players in Acres and James Aish who could both play the wing role, despite not having performed consistently there at AFL level.

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Should be able to sneak two first-round picks in at this draft before a bid comes for NGA prospect Liam Henry, so overall the can expect to get a very good haul in November.

On balance they will likely come out winners in each of their individual deals, particularly the Hill and Langdon exits, but as I said in September, “win flags, not trades.”

They will be better over the long term for this trade period, but their chances of winning a flag during Nat Fyfe’s prime years have taken a hit.

The Crowd’s Grade: B (44 per cent)
My Grade: B

GEELONG CATS

Players
In Out
Jack Steven Tim Kelly
Josh Jenkins Zac Smith
2 players 2 players
2019 picks
In Out
14 57
24
1946 DVI 182 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
West Coast’s Round 1 Round 3
Gold Coast’s Round 3
~1532 DVI ~253 DVI

Obviously didn’t want to lose a top-five player from this year’s Brownlow count in Tim Kelly, but managed to secure an almighty bounty of draft picks in exchange for him.

While there was some talk of packaging picks together to trade up, I actually like the idea of keeping what they’ve got and pick up seven players inside the first two rounds (four in the first round) over the next two years.

That will set them up well for the future but the good news is they were able to get some players who can help them win now in the door as well, and very cheaply.

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How much of Tim Kelly’s production does Jack Steven replace next year? Certainly not all of it, and it’s a roll of the dice, but it could be a lot of it.

Josh Jenkins, on the other hand, is a good fit to work alongside Tom Hawkins and Esava Ratugolea and provide some ruck support. A great fit structurally.

Jack Steven

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The Crowd’s Grade: B (41 per cent)
My Grade: A

GOLD COAST SUNS

Players
In Out
Brandon Ellis Callum Ah Chee
Hugh Greenwood
Zac Smith
3 players 1 player
2019 picks
In Out
0 DVI 0 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
Brisbane’s Round 2 Round 3
Brisbane’s Round 4 Round 4
~806 DVI ~615 DVI

If you take a look at the kind of players they were trading into the club last year (the Anthony Miles and George Horlin-Smiths of the world) versus those they signed this time around, they’ve clearly moved up a tier or two in quality.

Didn’t pay much for them either, with Callum Ah Chee’s departure giving them an overall net gain for their 2020 picks and none of the trades affecting this year’s draft arsenal where they hold picks 1, 2, 15 and 20.

Hard to know for sure how real the opportunity for them to land Brad Crouch was, or what it would have cost them, but getting that done would’ve elevated them to another level.

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What becomes of Jack Martin? It’s been a while since a club let an uncontracted player of quality walk to the draft, but even longer still since one took the opportunity to re-draft that player.

Do that and it will be a serious line-in-the-sand moment. Don’t, and you’ll have to wonder why they didn’t just take Carlton’s best offer.

The Crowd’s Grade: B (42%)
My Grade: B

GWS GIANTS

Players
In Out
Sam Jacobs Adam Tomlinson
Jon Patton
Aiden Bonar
1 player 3 players
2019 picks
In Out
6 12
40 18
59
2338 DVI 2253 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
North’s Round 3 Round 4
~339 DVI ~44 DVI

Managed to find a short-term fix to their ruck problems by bringing in Sam Jacobs, and cleared out a decent chunk of salary cap space that will make it easier to re-sign Jeremy Cameron and Lachie Whitfield in the new year.

At the same time, their draft hand appears to be very much a work in progress, and if they want to achieve their apparent goal of getting a pick in before the Tom Green bid, they have plenty of work to do.

Pick 6 probably isn’t high enough to feel confident of beating a bid at this stage. Sydney at pick 5 would love to get a player like Green on their books and would be a serious chance to bid.

The Giants were known to be looking at a pick swap to move up to pick 3, so expect them to continue pursuing this. But even if they pull that off, they’re still woefully short of picks thereafter with which to actually match the Green bid.

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Plenty of work to do between now and the draft.

The Crowd’s Grade: C (54 per cent)
My Grade: D

HAWTHORN HAWKS

Players
In Out
Jon Patton Grant Birchall
Sam Frost Marc Pittonet
2 players 2 players
2019 picks
In Out
42 50
54
63
727 DVI 273 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
Round 2
0 DVI ~691 DVI

Picked up a tall at either end, both of whom are worth rolling the dice on, neither of whom could really be considered a sure thing to have a positive impact in 2020.

Sam Frost is a durable and athletic key defender, but makes some shocking decisions with ball in hand. If the Hawks can mitigate his weaknesses, he’ll play a role.

Patton provides another tall target in Hawthorn’s forward line, but has lost much of his athleticism through three knee recos and is no guarantee to be in the 22, whether due to fitness or form.

Still, they both came cheaply enough, so the risk is low. Also managed to improve their 2019 draft position in a way that will help them match a bid for father-son draftee Finn Maginness.

The only question there is whether a bid comes before 11, which is a strong possibility. There may be more shuffling of picks still needed.

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The Crowd’s Grade: B (43 per cent)
My Grade: C

Jon Patton

(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE DEMONS

Players
In Out
Adam Tomlinson Sam Frost
Ed Langdon
2 players 1 player
2019 picks
In Out
8 22
42
61
79
1551 DVI 1375 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
Hawthorn’s Round 2 Round 1
Fremantle’s Round 4 Round 2
Round 4
~1030 DVI ~3275 DVI

Certainly made some bold moves, which could make or break not just their 2020 season but the over trajectory of this list.

Wanted wingers and got wingers in the form of Adam Tomlinson and Ed Langdon. By no measure are they elite-tier recruits, but both can play a role. The 194-centimetre Tomlinson will be a nice target coming out of defence.

The more dicey move was trading out second and third-round picks this year and their future first-rounder to get a second top ten pick in this year’s draft.

They could land some more class ball movers or some dangerous goal-kickers with those picks – Hayden Young, Caleb Serong, Dylan Stephens and Cody Weightman come to mind.

I like the boldness, but they’ve certainly put the heat on themselves in season 2020. Another year like this one would be an unmitigated disaster.

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The Crowd’s Grade: B (40 per cent)
My Grade: B

Adam Tomlinson

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

NORTH MELBOURNE KANGAROOS

Players
In Out
Aiden Bonar
1 player 0 players
2019 picks
In Out
26 8
50
1002 DVI 1551 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
Melbourne’s Round 1 Round 3
Melbourne’s Round 4
~2411 DVI ~339 DVI

What I wanted as a fan was to see North make smart and creative long-term decisions and roll the dice on a cheap rival player or two, and while it took some time to get started, the Roos did exactly that.

The pick trade with Melbourne will prove an even one at worst, a big win at best. Two picks in the mid 20s this year is not a bad place to be with the depth in the draft.

The club is undergoing a lot of off-field change and will have a very different footy department next year, so deferring this year’s first-rounder until then is not a bad idea either.

Aiden “Shin-Bonar” Bonar is worth taking a chance on at the cheap price North were able to get him for. Not a type of player the Roos desperately needed, but has a high ceiling.

Excited to spend all of 2020 poking pins in my Melbourne Demons voodoo doll. Good work, North.

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The Crowd’s Grade: C (42 per cent)
My Grade: B

PORT ADELAIDE POWER

Players
In Out
Dougal Howard
Paddy Ryder
Billy Frampton
0 players 3 players
2019 picks
In Out
12 10
18
2253 DVI 1395 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
St Kilda’s Round 3 Round 4
GWS’ Round 4
~482 DVI ~106 DVI

Lost three players but Dougal Howard is the only one that will likely prove significant, and even then, Port felt he was surplus to requirements.

In that sense they did well to get another top-20 pick through the door for him. Port are good drafters and should use that well, there’ll be some nice players available at that pick.

However, the drop-down from pick 10 to pick 12 in that trade could be something that really comes back to bite them.

It might not seem like much, but there could be a fairly significant decline in the quality of player available between those two selections.

Overall it’s clear their strategy revolved to some degree around Orazio Fantasia requesting a trade to the club, which didn’t happen. Without that, it’s not much to write home about.

The Crowd’s Grade: D (38 per cent)
My Grade: D

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RICHMOND TIGERS

Players
In Out
Dan Butler
0 players 2 players
2019 picks
In Out
39
56
640 DVI 0 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
0 DVI 0 DVI

The quietest trade period you’ll see from any club, the Tigers shed two players who were probably surplus to requirements and got roughly appropriate value in return for both.

Ellis was in their best 22 for the grand final but is pretty easily replaceable from their current list with Kamdyn McIntosh likely coming in to fill his role in 2020.

Butler is by no means a poor player but the Tigers’ enviable depth in the small forward position meant he was unlikely to crack a game and won’t be too seriously missed.

Have a nice bevy of picks around the 40 mark now – plenty of currency with which to package something together and trade up if that’s what they’re interested in doing.

The Crowd’s Grade: C (56 per cent)
My Grade: C

ST KILDA SAINTS

Players
In Out
Brad Hill Jack Steven
Dougal Howard Josh Bruce
Zak Jones Blake Acres
Paddy Ryder
Dan Butler
5 players 3 players
2019 picks
In Out
51 6
59
259 DVI 1909 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
Sydney’s Round 4 Round 2
Port’s Round 4 Round 3
Round 4
~283 DVI ~1478 DVI

The most active and aggressive club of the trade period, the Saints identified five targets and – unlike some other clubs – successfully landed each one.

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It proved expensive to do, though. The club largely traded themselves out of this year’s draft and much of next year’s, albeit still retaining their 2020 first-round pick.

They now have a really nice mix of midfield types, many of whom have good speed and/or endurace, as well as acquiring a much need long-term key defender option in Dougal Howard.

However with Jack Steven, Josh Bruce and Blake Acres going out the other way, they haven’t overall made a significant improvement to their depth.

This should be enough for them to improve in 2020 and be a serious finals threat, but was it the best course of action to increase their long-term premiership hopes?

The Crowd’s Grade: A (62 per cent)
My Grade: B

SYDNEY SWANS

Players
In Out
Lewis Taylor Zak Jones
Darcy Cameron
1 player 2 players
2019 picks
In Out
32 54
62
584 DVI 343 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
Fremantle’s Round 3 Round 4
~438 DVI ~176 DVI

Did involve themselves in a few deals – bringing Lewis Taylor to the club, and letting Zak Jones and Darcy Cameron move on – but those trades aren’t what people will be talking about when it comes to Sydney’s trade period.

Instead, the inability to get a deal done for Joe Daniher, combined with (and closely linked to) the decision to hold Tom Papley to his contract, will be Sydney’s hot topics.

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On the surface I don’t mind it – Papley is worth trying to convince to stay long term as the Swans once successfully did with Ryan O’Keefe, and Daniher wasn’t going to win them a flag in 2020.

Where I don’t like it is that Daniher is a restricted free agent next year, giving Essendon the option of again trying to force a trade.

That’s not so bad, but Sydney will also be trying to match bids for two highly-rated academy players next year, which will make a difficult trio of balls for the Swans to juggle in 2020.

Not irreparable, but they may have done themselves some damage in this one.

The Crowd’s Grade: C (37 per cent)
My Grade: D

WEST COAST EAGLES

Players
In Out
Tim Kelly
1 player 0 players
2019 picks
In Out
46 14
91 24
33
64
331 DVI 2610 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
Geelong’s Round 3 Round 1
~253 DVI ~1094 DVI

Only made one move of any real consequence during the trade period, but it was the biggest and best of the eight days of trading.

Essentially managed to land the best player on offer in this year’s exchange, but gave up an almighty bounty to do it, effectively taking themselves out of this year’s draft and losing next year’s first-rounder also.

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The Eagles have been sneakily good at hitting up the draft over the last five or so years and can probably afford to take the calculated that they have here.

Kelly’s arrival probably makes them 2020 premiership favourites at this early stage – certainly in the top two – and gives them a very good chance of winning another flag over the next five years.

From that perspective, this is a deal you’d make time and time again.

The Crowd’s Grade: A (42 per cent)
My Grade: A

Tim Kelly

(Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

WESTERN BULLDOGS

Players
In Out
Josh Bruce
Alex Keath
2 players 0 players
2019 picks
In Out
32
45
51
0 DVI 1190 DVI
2020 picks
In Out
Adelaide’s Round 3 Round 2
~339 DVI ~691 DVI

The Bulldogs identified a clear deficiency in a lack of mature key position players on their list, and set about rectifying that in very effective fashion.

Neither Alex Keath or Josh Bruce is in the elite tier of players for their respective position – although Keath came within touching distance of that at times this year – but both are solid citizens who will provide valuable structure to the Bulldogs’ 22.

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The Bulldogs assessed, accurately, that neither player was worth diluting the value of their first draft selection (No.13) for. They stuck to their guns on this even though it took until the final hours to get trades done for them.

The net result is that they still have a pick high enough to get a nice player in at the draft this year while also landing two mature recruits who’ll have an immediate impact on the team in 2020. Faultless.

The Crowd’s Grade: B (42 per cent)
My Grade: A

Josh Bruce

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)