The AFL free agency period has officially begun, with Adelaide Crows defender Jake Kelly and Richmond Tigers tall Mabior Chol the first players to find new homes for 2022.
Experienced Adelaide defender Jake Kelly is quitting the AFL club to return to his native Victoria.
The Melbourne-born Kelly, who has fallen off-contract after playing 110 games for the Crows, is an unrestricted free agent, meaning he can sign with a club of his choice.
Kelly, 26, told the Crows of his decision at a meeting with coach Matthew Nicks on Friday morning.
The son of Collingwood premiership player and now renowned player agent Craig Kelly has been linked with Essendon.
The Bombers’ current coach Ben Rutten was a teammate of Kelly when he was selected with pick 40 in the 2014 rookie draft.
Kelly is the latest Crow to turn his back on the club to return to Victoria, with a string of favourite sons including Patrick Dangerfield, Jake Lever, Brad Crouch, Kyle Hartigan and Alex Keath heading east in recent years.
Adelaide’s current head of football Adam Kelly, no relation to the backman, says the Crows respect his reasoning for leaving.
“Jake has made a great contribution to our club over the past eight seasons,” Adam Kelly said in a statement.
“He has consistently set high standards on and off the field with his training and preparation.”
Kelly’s departure means there are now only eight Crows remaining from their 2017 AFL grand final loss to Richmond, less than four years ago, with teammates David Mackay, Tom Lynch and Daniel Talia being moved on by the club.