With the announcement Bombers star Zach Merrett will “wait” to decide on his future at the Hangar, he’s now become a hot topic for free agency rumours and put Essendon’s season under the spotlight with perhaps a higher intensity than previously.
With Ben Rutten’s first real season in charge – but, let’s be honest, he coached last year – and a need for Essendon to be on the rise, if they don’t have an upwards trajectory, he has every right to seek further options.
His management will field calls, but four clubs in particular should absolutely get on the phone.
They made inquiries about Merrett’s services at the end of last season and rightly so. Merrett is only six and a half months younger than skipper Patrick Cripps and would add yet another dynamic to a Carlton midfield that finally added some weapons.
A midfield core of Cripps, Zac Williams, Merrett and Sam Walsh is a very appetising one. There is no reason Carlton would chase Merrett when he had a contract but not chase him now.
Salary cap issues will haunt the Pies due to the turnover in the 2020 off-season, but Merrett is an upgrade from every player who left and would be Collingwood’s third-best midfielder – second if you want to put him above Taylor Adams.
Scott Pendlebury is 33, and getting a 25-year-old star will work better for the Pies’ growth than a draft pick. They’re getting Nick Daicos in this draft anyway, so adding Merrett has no downside.
Brodie Grundy tapping the ball to Taylor Adams, Scott Pendlebury and Merrett in 2022 is a match made in heaven, and even when Pendlebury goes it still works beautifully.
Most of the same reasoning with Collingwood works for Sydney. The Swans have a stronger core coming through, Josh Kennedy turns 33 in June and guys like Dylan Stephens, James Rowbottom, Errol Gulden, Justin McInerney, Braeden Campbell and Ollie Florent have all played 70 or fewer games.
Are Ryan Clarke, Harry Cunningham and Robbie Fox the answers? It’s the most left-field of the teams on here, but it sounds very appealing. With the talls at Sydney growing beautifully, Merrett’s class, metres gained and good ball use would add plenty to the Harbour City.
The Hawks have got more list problems than would be solved by just getting Merrett, but Hawthorn’s midfield problems at least would be fixed with a snap of the fingers. Tom Mitchell is the extractor who can feed out to Merrett and James Worpel, who is getting better and better with each game he plays.
Does Zach really want to go to a club at the same if not a lower level than where he’s currently playing? Who knows. But if Hawthorn do better than Essendon this year, they absolutely should try and get him.
The Tigers chased Brad Crouch at the end of the 2020 season, so why exactly would they want not Merrett? Dustin Martin is begging to be unleashed as the ultimate pinch-hitting midfield-forward – which he basically is already – and though Richmond have guys like Jack Ross and Thomson Dow who want midfield roles, would you rather those two or Merrett? Case closed.