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The Roar



The Roar's AFL trade period crystal ball: Who ends up where and how the deals get done

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29th September, 2021
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The football season may be behind us, but that just means it’s time to whip ourselves up into a frenzy over the upcoming player movement period.

Free agency and trade time always makes for an entertaining part of the footy calendar as the rumour mill spins into overdrive and the fiction gets separated from the fact.

So, I’ve wrangled the old expert tipping panel back together – and added editor Tim Miller to the mix – to give you our wild predictions and educated guesses ahead of the whole thing kicking off tomorrow.

For a full list of trade rumours doing the rounds, click here. If you’re after a full list of AFL free agents and out of contract players, click here.

Stirling Coates

Number of trades: 25
How does the Cerra deal get done? Blues receive Cerra and a second-round pick, Dockers receive picks six, 25 and 61
The biggest trade bombshell will be…: Sam Reid flying north to the Lions as Eric Hipwood’s stand-in
The headline you’ll definitely read: “Kane Cornes urges Crows and Power clubs to sign every single South Australian player in the league”
The headline you definitely won’t read: “Football media agrees to moratorium on Stephen Coniglio rumours”

All roads look to lead to Fremantle in this upcoming trade period as they simultaneously try to gain fair compensation from Carlton for Adam Cerra and prise Jordan Clark away from Geelong – and I think those simultaneous pursuits could hold up a lot of other deals.

Going off Lachie Neale’s trade to Brisbane a few seasons ago, the Dockers got picks six, 19 and 55 in exchange for Neale and pick 30.

In a perfect world, we’d see an almost identical trade that sees Freo land picks six, 25 and 61 in exchange for Cerra and pick 27. The problem is they want to give pick 27 to the Cats for Clark and the Cats think Clark’s worth more than that.


So the Dockers are likely going to need to find more draft capital elsewhere. It’d sure be easier if Sam Petrveski-Seton wanted to wear purple instead of blue and gold.

Sam Petrevski-Seton of the Blues argues with AFL Field Umpire Craig Fleer

Sam Petrevski-Seton (c) (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Outside of that, there’s not a lot to get the chins wagging. The Swans are usually pretty easy to deal with, so I don’t imagine Jordan Dawson’s move to Adelaide will take too long, while I suspect the Bulldogs might be able to land Peter Ladhams from Port if they ask nicely enough.

I do think the rumour of Hawthorn parting ways with an A-grader to accelerate the rebuild had some legs, but I’m not sure who’d be the likeliest to leave and whether Sam Mitchell’s appointment changes things.

Let’s talk about some players who haven’t been in the headlines for a while.


A bombshell report earlier this year claimed Brayden Maynard was on his way to Melbourne this offseason – but has been roundly shot down by agent and club. The mail says Collingwood’s salary cap squeeze isn’t quite over, however, and you’d wonder whether moving on a fairly expensive pending free agent could be in the Magpies’ best interests. Watch this space.

Rory Lobb was also mulling over a move to Victoria or Queensland, according to reports. Given he has another two years to run on his deal, I suspect a suitor would really have to knock the Dockers socks off to even get their call answered – especially given how full Freo’s hands will already be. Still, if a third party can grease the wheels enough on the Cerra and Clark deals, perhaps the move happens?

Port Adelaide seem very keen on a key position player, with Jeremy Finalyson reportedly doing a medical at Alberton and Tim O’Brien being on the radar. O’Brien is a free agent and the Hawks are yet to table him a deal, so that could get done quickly if Port are interested enough. Finalyson might take a bit more work.

Finally, my bombshell man in Sam Reid. The 29-year-old unrestricted free agent’s days must surely be numbered at Sydney now. The Swans are in a salary cap crunch, have just re-signed Hayden McLean amidst heavy interest from the Saints and still have the likes of Joel Amartey and Logan McDonald waiting in the wings.

With the Lions in need of a key forward to fill Eric Hipwood’s shoes for a year, why not pick up the phone and bring the veteran up north? The Gabba medicos have worked wonders on other injury-plagued players in the past, before you bring his history up.

Nobody’s talking about it, but I say it’s a match that makes perfect sense. Make it happen.

Tim Miller

Number of trades: 21
How does the Cerra deal get done? Blues trade pick six and next year’s second rounder, no other clubs involved.
The biggest trade bombshell will be…: A big-name Hawk goes to a premiership contender (looking at you Jack Gunston)
The headline you’ll definitely read: “#SackKen trends on Twitter as Port lose Ladhams for peanuts”
The headline you definitely won’t read: “Bombers celebrate winning seventh trade premiership in ten years”


After last year’s hectic trade period which saw big departures, salary cap scandals and the obligatory journeyman ruckman cross the country to a new home, expect a much quieter one this time around.

The 2021 pool of free agents is barely a puddle, while most of the ‘key’ names have already nominated their new homes – including Adam Cerra.

With Essendon finally looking like putting faith in their own burgeoning talent, a historic major player in this fortnight looks set to sit on their hands and wait it out.

Little wonder, then, that there’s been so much speculation over Hawthorn, and whether new coach Sam Mitchell is considering the sort of veteran cull that can make or break a list.

Tom Mitchell is the name around which most of the rumours circle (which, if history is any guide, also means he’s the least likely to leave), but Jack Gunston, Chad Wingard and even Jaeger O’Meara have all been linked to leaving and chasing success elsewhere. I’ll back in that one of them will be wearing new colours in two weeks’ time.

Jack Gunston of the Hawks celebrates a goal

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

More interesting is the situation surrounding Port Adelaide, with reported salary cap issues that they’ll desperately need to nip in the bud, lest their comparisons with Collingwood go beyond just their desire to wear the black and white.

Peter Ladhams looks a likely casualty, which could be the Power’s saving grace: with contenders Geelong and the Western Bulldogs desperately after a long-term ruck option, competition for his signature could allow Port some flexibility at the trade table that the Pies sorely lacked this time last year.


Rumours and innuendo always reach fever pitch in the silly season, but with fewer than usual players looking on the move in 2021, you can expect even more speculation than ever. I can just about guarantee that if things stay quiet in the first week, someone from Trade Radio (looking at you, Kane Cornes) will float a mega, eight-team trade that has less than zero chance of ever coming through.

But then, would it really be a trade period without one of those?

Dem Panopoulos

Number of trades: 24
How does the Cerra deal get done? Fremantle have made it clear that pick six has to be involved, so probably that, and future third- and fourth-round picks for Cerra and a future second-rounder.
The biggest trade bombshell will be… West Coast look to bring in draft capital by offering Jeremy McGovern and Elliot Yeo to clubs behind the scenes.
The headline you’ll definitely read: “Trade Period should be a clean, Monday-Friday, one-week event”
The headline you definitely won’t read: Given how the media works, “Adam Cerra well worth the price”

Barely a moment has passed after the grand final and we’re straight into the free agency and trade period, which surely could’ve waited a little longer if not for the commercialisation of the fortnight.

The lead-up has been strange, given the lack of top-end talent seeking movement between clubs, although that’s never stopped something left-field and outrageous from eventuating.

Adam Cerra’s the headline act and while he’ll probably end up at Carlton, there should be a bit to play out there.

We can expect to see Hawthorn and Richmond packaging picks to try and move up the order, as trade partners for the Bulldogs or even Brisbane with one of their two first-round picks.


It’s times like these where we should indulge in the ridiculous and heavily consider drastic changes.

Imagine the trading of coaches in the modern era; West Coast trades coach Adam Simpson for Melbourne’s second-round pick and the rights to be the only team that can interview Mark Williams. Maybe Collingwood trades three members of their accounting department to Carlton for two HR resources and a third-round pick to help get Nick Daicos?

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Speaking of the Eagles, they’re destined for the bottom four if they don’t change something. To completely forgo any interest in a young talent like Jordan Clark seems strange, given the lack of real excitement off half-back and the wing.

The big question will be whether we see anything earth-shattering happen. Probably not, but no doubt some clubs will try.

There’ll be six clubs asking Gold Coast about Ben King and Jack Lukosius, Greater Western Sydney will field calls for Tom Green and probably Stephen Coniglio and if teams get even a sniff that the Tigers are planning an on-the-run rebuild, someone, anyone will ask about Dustin Martin.

Ultimately, that’s part of the mystique around this time of the year. It’s all rumour and innuendo until something happens, and we wait way too long for something to happen.

Let’s hope for some early action.

Liam Salter

Number of trades: Tradition dictates there’ll be about four in the first 98 per cent of the trade period, another 20-odd on the final day.
How does the Cerra deal get done? It would be outrageous if pick 6 is Fremantle’s only compensation for Cerra so, barring another team getting involved, pick six and Carlton’s pick 25 should suffice.
The biggest trade bombshell will be… A Port young gun being poached. If you’re wanting a pure trade bombshell, imagine a Zak Butters or Connor Rozee type being attracted to a Victorian club – I’m betting a club who misses out on Cerra will pick up the phone.

The headline you’ll definitely read: “Suns re-sign King”
The headline you definitely won’t read: “[Club A] doesn’t relent, forces [Player A] into the pre-season draft”.

Barring about 12 hours of surprise Lachie Neale-to-Freo chatter, there hasn’t been a lot of genuinely exciting trade whispers as we head into this trade period.

Cerra alone provides enough filler for the entire Trade Radio broadcast period, but I’m betting it’ll be over rather quickly: it wouldn’t surprise to see this one wrapped up rather quickly, contrary to expectation.

Patrick Lipinski’s request to head to Collingwood is a bit of surprise – probably more so for the Pies, who’d be pleased somebody actually wants to head there – but he’s been on the outer at the Dogs for a little while and will be traded on the cheap.

In the meantime, I’d expect to see the Pies aim not to repeat a horrid trade period last year (there will be no Scott Pendlebury departure), but the likes of Mason Cox and Brayden Sier will depart.

Mason Cox.

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Victorian clubs dispatching players west will happen. Among them Jordan Clark, who’s been linked to the Dockers for an age and will be used as a pawn in Geelong’s laughable quest for a first round pick, and Sam Petrevski-Seton, who’ll also head west to join the Eagles.

Richmond – who’ve often been fairly quiet in the recent trade period – should pick up Robbie Tarrant and, if you believe a News Corp report, Jaeger O’Meara. That latter rumour won’t eventuate, but the gossip around it will be insufferable.

The Hawks will also seriously consider desiring draft picks to trade out a Tom Mitchell or Jack Gunston type, but they’ll likely be prohibitively expensive for any other club.

What’s up with the South Aussie clubs? The Crows have already all-but-secured Jordan Dawson, who’ll be an underrated trade. I’m going to bet the Power will get a lot of approaches (Peter Ladams to Queensland is the most likely here) but really see too much happen – unless my improbable trade bombshell eventuates.

This is but a snapshot of what will inevitably be a wild trade period – even if, at first glance, the most solid rumours are anything but exciting.