Tom Papley recently announced his desire to remain a Swan until at least 2023, turning his back on a return home to Victoria.
At the end of last season, Papley requested a move to Carlton for family reasons. The move didn’t eventuate and the belief was that he would again request a trade at the end of 2020.
While he has opted to stay in Sydney and thrown a spanner in the Blues’ trade plans, it is a blessing for the club.
Carlton most likely would have to have parted with two first-round picks and north of $600,000 to secure Papley.
While goals are a premium, Papley has been short of them in the second half of 2020. That sort of money would be a huge investment on any small forward, especially when you look at Carlton’s list – there’s no shortage of potential small forwards.
Eddie Betts seems set to play on in 2021, while Sam Philp, Josh Honey and Matt Owies have all debuted this season for the Blues and impressed when given the chance.
The club doesn’t need to invest all that money in a position they have cover for – especially when there is a glaring hole in the team – they need a quick outside midfielder who can deliver the ball going forward, and a player of that ilk won’t come cheap.
It will take big money and tradable assets. They’ll be paying overs, as you have to do in the market, but the pressure a player like that will take off Patrick Cripps will be a massive relief.
Zac Williams is a known target and there is speculation that Josh Kelly may be gettable due to the salary cap squeeze for the Giants.
If you’re spending north of half a million dollars, you’d be better served securing a midfielder who will get the footy 20-plus times a game as opposed to a small forward who may drift out of the game.
Small forward is one of the hardest positions to play and paying big dollars for it puts immediate pressure on that player to perform.
The pressure will no doubt come on anyone signed for big cash but it is a lot easier for a midfielder to collect big disposal numbers as opposed to a forward to kick bags these days. The midfielders also get more space to hide if things aren’t going well.
Don’t be mistaken, Papley would be a massive acquisition, but missing out on him won’t haunt Carlton and may help pave the way for an even bigger signing.