We all knew it would end this way: deadline day has arrived and with more than a dozen trades still waiting in limbo, it is set to be a fast-paced and dramatic end to the trade period – just as it always is.
Nothing is unexpected about that. There are always deals where neither party is willing to budge until the clock runs out, and often some where clubs remain stoic. But if there’s one trade I’m surprised to see still on the to-do list, it’s Jeremy Cameron.
That’s not because this trade necessarily looks like a simple transaction, but because Geelong have a reputation for paying the price and getting deals done – and so far they haven’t lived up to it.
At the start of the week their best offer was reportedly two first-rounders for Cameron, which was later confirmed to be the last two of their three first-round picks this year – 15 and 20.
Let me share with you probably my biggest trader period pet peeve: when someone says “first-rounder” as if any given first-round pick is equivalent to any other. Pick 1 is a first-rounder, so is Pick 18, and there’s a world of difference between them.
Is Jeremy Cameron worth two first-rounders? If we’re talking about Picks 4 and 10 then sure, that’s probably about right, perhaps a little over. If we’re talking Picks 15 and 20, then come on – serious offers only, please.
The latest on Wednesday was that the Cats have given up a little ground and are now putting forward an offer of Picks 13 and 15. That’s certainly closer to the right price but for mine, still not enough – especially given that they’ll likely be pushed out at least two or three places by NGA bids.
The Cats seem almost surprised that GWS are driving such a hard bargain for a two-time All Australian, Coleman Medal-winning key forward in the prime of his career. I don’t really understand how they could be.
There’s no rule against hypocrisy in the AFL, but their reluctance to pay the price for such an elite and hard-to-find talent is very much at odds with the compensation they demanded for Tim Kelly’s exit last year.
But, it would be unfair of me to suggest that only one party is responsible for this deal being held up. The Giants reportedly ignored calls from the Cats in the first week of trade period – which was presumably a negotiating tactic of some kind, but just comes off a bit childish.
What surprises me more about the Giants is that they reportedly offered Cameron only $750,000 to stay at the club, but were happy to match his much larger contract offer at the Cats – reportedly around $900,000 per year. Why not stump that up when they still had a chance?
It seems both parties have needed some time to get serious about this deal, and because of that it is one that’s still yet to be completed on the final day of the trade period. And to be fair to both, that’s not a crime. There are no prizes for getting deals done early.
Still, the Giants are – in my view – a club that needs to add mature talent to its list, rather than more draft picks. I can’t help but wonder if by playing games with the Cats, rather than look to negotiate in goodwill as early as possible, they’ve missed the opportunity to do just that.
As for the Cats, that good reputation is perhaps the only thing they are at risk of losing by playing hardball – as I have no doubts that Cameron will get to them one way or another. Perhaps they’re not worried if it takes a bit of a hit.
But maybe they should be. They’ve seen a lot of mature players nominate them as a preferred destination in recent years and it’s been that stream of talent that’s kept this club competitive – and I don’t doubt their good professional standing is part of the reason why.
That’s a deal I’m confident will get done – but the future is a bit less clear for some others. Josh Dunkley and Orazio Fantasia stand out as players who I wouldn’t be surprised to see still in their original colours this time tomorrow.
The Bulldogs are reportedly demanding Essendon cough up two first-rounders for Dunkley. Is it overs? Well, that ambiguous term “first-rounder” comes into it again – if we’re talking two of Essendon’s top ten selections, then yes.
But Dunkley is contracted, so the Dogs hold all the cards. I don’t think they would feel reluctant at all to keep him on the list if their demands aren’t met.
It took until the final hour but two years ago when Essendon were in a similar situation with a contracted Dylan Shiel, they did finally blink and pay the price – I don’t think the Dogs have forgotten that.
The Fantasia trade, on the other hand, is a deal neither club seems to be budging on. Given that Port Adelaide could sign him as a free agent in 2021 if they wished to, I’m not sure the motivation is there to increase their offer – so it may come down to whether or not Essendon are willing to hold him.
For both the Bombers and the Giants, their positions will be made all the more complex by the fact they need to get multiple other deals done on the day.
Jye Caldwell is trying to move between them, and GWS will want to get something out of Adelaide for Jackson Hately – suffice to say it could be a late night for both of those clubs.
Another developing situation is that of Jaidyn Stephenson, who in the last 24 hours has reportedly become a ’50-50′ chance to join North Melbourne.
While Stephenson was originally intent on remaining at Collingwood, it now seems that he is seriously weighing up an offer from the Kangaroos – and if he says yes, then North and the Magpies will need to strike a deal in speedy fashion.
It’s said that Collingwood want a first-rounder in return for Stephenson but North would only offer a second. That might still do it, depending on how desperate the Magpies are to clear out cap space.
They’ve put Stephenson, Adam Treloar, Tom Phillips and Mason Cox on the table during this trade period as they look to make room in their salary cap – but here we are on deadline day and they are all still contracted to Collingwood for 2021.
Ben Brown, Jack Higgins and Alex Withderden to Melbourne, St Kilda and West Coast are all deals we expect to see get done today as well.
Could there be a curveball on top somewhere too? Here’s looking forward to finding out.