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

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Roar Rookie
24th September, 2020
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The 2020 AFL home-and-away season has drawn to a close, with ten teams finishing their stints in hubs.

Despite not being involved in any finals fixtures, clubs don’t stop working, with free agency, trade period and draft day being a critical time to improve a squad’s fortunes.

With club lists expected to be cut to just 38 players, there will be plenty of player movement this off-season.

Adelaide: Brad Crouch

The Crows ball magnet almost moved to Gold Coast last season, however, a trade couldn’t be completed. He has had a rather productive season, but Adelaide have apparently made it clear that if the offer he receives will earn them the number two pick in the draft they plan on letting him walk.

Who would want him?
After Gold Coast’s promising year with Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson, Hugh Greenwood and Lachie Weller, they aren’t expected to be in the race for Crouch’s signature. Expect Geelong to try to lure him to Victoria, however, Port Adelaide are a genuine chance to land the rival midfielder with Ollie Wines expected to move on.

Brisbane: Alex Witherden

Witherden has found himself on the outer this season, only managing a handful of games when Daniel Rich was injured. At 22 years old, he is still at a young enough age to attract attention from clubs, with plenty of games under his belt already.

Who would want him?
The Hawks are in a stage of rebuilding and have a tendency to bring in experienced players over draftees. Witherden still fits the age profile Hawthorn should be targeting this off-season, as they did with Jack Scrimshaw. Witherden could feature on a wing or halfback, as Hawthorn have glaring deficiencies in both those areas.

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Carlton: Mitch McGovern

McGovern is still young enough to improve his output, but he won’t be getting a game at Carlton next season if their talls are all fit. His production towards the end of 2020 was putrid, and hasn’t played enough quality games to justify his wage.

Despite having a couple of years left on his contract, expect Carlton to attempt to offload the key forward to a club willing to pay half his salary.

Mitch McGovern

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Who would want him?
There is probably very little market interest in him this off-season. However, if Carlton are willing to pay 25-50 per cent of his salary, a team like Collingwood, Geelong or Port Adelaide may have a sniff. All three clubs are in their premiership windows, and McGovern could provide them with a tall presence in their smaller forward lines.

Collingwood: Tom Phillips

Phillips is a quality wingman that Collingwood would want to keep. However, the Magpies have big contracts to pay, and Josh Daicos has developed very nicely on a wing. Darcy Moore and Jordan de Goey are seen as priorities to keep at the Holden Centre, which could force them to test the waters with Phillips as trade bait.

Who would want him?
Any side needing a wingman, raise your hands. Phillips would fit in superbly with Hawthorn as they offload some of their ageing veterans in a bid to get younger. Isaac Smith may be out the door, opening a spot for Phillips.

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Expect Brisbane and West Coast to be interested, but their salary cap would be much tighter than the Hawks’.

Essendon: Joe Daniher

Possibly the most talked-about player movement since Buddy Franklin left Hawthorn for Sydney, except there was no player movement. Adrian Dodoro wanted two first-round picks plus a player from the Swans last season, which Sydney declined.

Daniher then spent almost the entire season in the rehab rooms at the Hanger, finally making his season debut against Hawthorn. He’s still expected to leave this off-season via free agency, but his value is cloudy.

Who would want him?
Expect to see him in red and white next season, not red and black. There is the off chance he stays a Bomber, but he’s now a free agent and will probably end up at Sydney alongside Lance Franklin in the trainer’s room…I mean, forward line.

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Geelong: Nakia Cockatoo

Cockatoo is a talented youngster who hasn’t lived up to his tremendous potential so far. He’s consistently had seasons ruined by injuries, with 2020 being sidelined the entire season.

Despite being loved at Geelong, Cockatoo is rumoured to be in the sights of multiple rival clubs, and may want to try to revive his career.

Who would want him?
Geelong are keen to retain his services, but Brisbane are rumoured to be interested in the 23-year-old. The Lions are a relatively young side, and Cockatoo would fit in as a depth option if he can get his body sorted.

Gold Coast: Will Brodie

Gold Coast are looking at a nightmare offseason, with a 51-man list needing to be cut down dramatically. Will Brodie looks like he’ll find a new home in 2021 after managing just one game this season.

The former number nine pick is contracted until 2022, but Gold Coast could look to move him to free up list space and salary cap.

Who would want him?
Brodie featured for Essendon in a scratch match this year and apparently the Bombers are interested in his services next season. With Essendon looking bulk up their list after a disappointing 2020, Brodie could return to Victoria and play a role in the Bombers’ midfield that received plenty of criticism throughout the season.

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Greater Western Sydney: Zac Williams

Williams has already made it clear that he is exercising his free agency rights, and has nominated Carlton as his preferred landing spot. He is a restricted free agent, so the Giants could match the contract and force a trade, however, he’s expected to leave with minimal fuss from GWS.

Zac Williams of the Giants celebrates a goal

(Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Who would want him?
If he doesn’t get his wish in joining Carlton, North Melbourne have been public in their pursuit of Williams. They were rumoured to offer a bigger and longer deal than Carlton, but Williams is more interested in the Blues as a club.

A midfield role beckons at the Blues for Williams.

Hawthorn: Isaac Smith

Hawthorn had an extremely disappointing 2020, with the fallout being a complete rebuild. Rumours surfaced last season about Smith being offered to rival clubs, but he remained for 2020. With Hawthorn expected to cull and trade many of the older stalwarts of the club, Smith could be on the move this off-season.

Who would want him?
Expect Brisbane to take a run at another Hawk to join their side. Coach Chis Fagan is enjoying having his former Hawthorn friends on his Lions side, with Luke Hodge and Grant Birchall both playing for Brisbane under Fagan. Hawthorn have offered Smith a two-year deal, however, Brisbane are rumoured to offer him three years.

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Melbourne: Braydon Preuss

The backup ruck was brought from North Melbourne to provide support for Max Gawn, however, drafting Luke Jackson has meant Preuss has relied on Gawn and Jackson missing to get a game. There is a market for rucks this off-season, and it is likely Preuss will find a new home.

Who would want him?
Greater Western Sydney have already lost Sam Jacobs to retirement, and it is expected that Shane Mumford will join him. If Mumford decides to play on another year, GWS will still be looking to bolster their ruck division. Geelong have Darcy Fort and Rhys Stanley, but they do enjoy the ruck merry-go-round at the Cattery and may look at him too.

North Melbourne: Ben Brown

North Melbourne’s curly-haired goal kicker has been told to explore his options this off-season after a lacklustre 2020. It’s a bizarre move from the Kangaroos after Brown kicked 188 goals in the three seasons prior.

He’s still young enough to make an impact, and he’ll have a few options for landing spots.

Who would want him?
Anyone want a key forward who averaged three goals a game for three consecutive seasons? Brown will be hot property this off-season, with teams such as Collingwood, Essendon and Hawthorn expected to make moves.

It is unlikely the Hawks will make a big play, since they have a number of key forwards already and are looking to go younger, but Collingwood are currently using Brody Mihocek as their number one option. Essendon are bracing for Joe Daniher’s departure, and Brown could be a ready-made option.

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Port Adelaide: Ollie Wines

Wines has recently said he’s happy at Alberton and wants to win a flag for Port Adelaide this year, but the noise surrounding his return to Victoria hasn’t quietened. After losing the joint captaincy, rumours surrounding his unhappiness at the club began to surface, with rivals hoping to poach the hard-nosed midfielder.

Ollie Wines of the Power kicks on goal

(Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Who would want him?
Carlton are expected to make a run at Wines if he becomes available. The Blues have young stars in the forward and back lines, however, Cripps still needs some support. Sam Walsh is blossoming into a star, but Ed Curnow and Marc Murphy are reaching the twilight of their careers and Wines could help boost the Blues into finals contention.

Wines’ childhood best friend is Melbourne’s Jack Viney, but they already have Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca and Viney in their midfield, Wines wouldn’t solve their issues.

Richmond: Jack Graham

The Tigers’ midfielder is out of contract and is a wanted man. Graham is still seen as a required player at Richmond, but a lack of opportunity has caused plenty of conversation around the youngster. Richmond’s assistant coach Adam Kingsley has said previously he thinks Graham is a long-term replacement for midfielders such as Dion Prestia and Shane Edwards.

Who would want him?
Carlton are shopping this off-season and have reportedly put a four-year contract in front of the 22-year-old. The Blues are clearly in the market for a big-bodied midfielder, and someone like Graham could help right away in their bid to play finals.

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Saint Kilda: Luke Dunstan

After spending the first six years of his career as an important member of St Kilda’s midfield (16+ games every season), Dunstan has found himself on the outer, featuring just once in 2020. Contracted until the end of 2021, Dunstan doesn’t have to go anywhere.

But with the Saints opening their pockets to sign several players, off-loading a depth player on a decent salary might help them loosen their belt a little.

Who would want him?
Adelaide should be looking at the draft to rebuild their list, however Dunstan is 25 years old and would slot into the Crows’ midfield and contribute straight away. He wouldn’t cost much to pry from St Kilda’s grasp as he’s clearly not an integral part of their line-up now, but he would be a valued commodity to Adelaide as they try to rebuild.

Sydney: Lance Franklin

They couldn’t, could they? Franklin’s last few seasons have been ravaged by injuries, with Buddy unable to get onto the park this season. Ten games over the last two seasons is not a great return on investment, especially when the investment was approximately ten million dollars over nine years.

With Joe Daniher rumoured to be joining the Swans, they may look to move off one of the most expensive contracts in the AFL.

Who would want him?
At his best, he’s easily the best player in the AFL. However, we haven’t seen his best in quite a while and is possibly at a point we’ll never see it again. Clubs would be nervous to pick him up unless Sydney were willing to pay a large chunk of his contract.

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Could we see a return to the brown and gold? With the clear path the Hawks look to be taking, probably not. But Clarko may see Buddy as an opportunity to avoid the rebuild he clearly dreads.

Lance Franklin

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

West Coast: Nathan Vardy

Vardy was an integral part of West Coast’s premiership in 2018 after Nic Naitanui tore his ACL. However, Nic Nat is back at his best, while the Eagles preferred Oscar Allen and Bailey Williams as his back up, leaving Vardy sidelined for all of 2020. Out of contract this season, it is unlikely he’ll be at West Coast in 2021.

Who would want him?
No one would look at Vardy as a number one ruck, however, he would provide a depth option if he were cheap enough. Hawthorn are short on ruck if they continue to persist with Ben McEvoy at fullback, while Essendon have Sam Draper but just lost Tom Bellchambers.

Western Bulldogs: Lin Jong

Jong was once an important piece in the Western Bulldogs side. However, he has been left to play reserves football in 2020, just managing three games this season. He’s out of contract, but he’s expected to be offered another deal at the Kennell.

Who would want him?
Jong is a utility player, being able to slot into a forward line, onto a wing or take a halfback spot. Teams like Melbourne and St Kilda would utilise a player like Jong in a few different ways, and both would be suitable homes for the out-of-favour Dog.

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