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Buddy Franklin's looming AFL free agency has taken a hit, after the premiership star was boldy declared to be outside the league's top 200 players.
The former Hawthorn champion's monster nine-year contract with the Sydney Swans is set to come to an end after this season, with Franklin in talks with the Swans for 2023 and beyond.
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However the AFL world's ears pricked up when it was reported Franklin was unhappy with what was labelled an initial 'lowball' offer from the Swans.
Franklin is reportedly chasing a figure in the vicinity of $700,000 a season to play on, with the Swans' offer reportedly less than that, at $500,000.
There were some suggestions Franklin could walk away from the Swans if an agreement couldn't be reached, however former Port Adelaide star Kane Cornes said Franklin's value was overstated.
After missing the entire season in 2020 through injury, Franklin finished 10th in Sydney's best and fairest last season.
Though he reached the coveted 1000 goal milestone earlier this year, Cornes had his doubts.
“He’s not in the top 200 players in the game at the moment,” he told Footy Classified.
“Based on his best and fairest finishes the last two years, based on the eye … that is a gut feel.”
Fellow panellist Sam McClure disagreed, saying he believed the wholse situation was a storm in a teacup.
Despite being in the later stages of his career, McClure said Franklin remained one of the most highly-rated teams in the competition between all 18 clubs.
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“If you were to pick two teams in the competition right now to play against someone else — you’re picking 44 players — you’d find a spot for Franklin,” he said.
“He’s in the best 50 players in the comp.”
McClure went a step further, tipping Franklin and the Swans would have a new deal sorted without incident.
“I never like shooting stuff like this down, but I don’t really get the hullabaloo,” he said.
“They’ve offered $500,000, he wants $700,000, they’ll find a figure in the middle, he’ll be playing for Sydney next year.”
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Franklin joined the Swans on a monster and controversial nine-year contract prior to the 2014 season, with the 35-year-old forward considering a potential move to a third club should talks with the Swans break down.
Franklin's potential deal has also generated interest in conjunction with suspicions Richmond star Dustin Martin could be bound for Sydney at the end of the season, with the Swans listed as a potential destination.
Martin remains under contract with the Tigers for a further two seasons however, prompting a somewhat irritated Swans chief executive Tom Harley to set the record straight about the club's dealings.
Harley said the club was comfortable with their position with Franklin, and said it would be inappropriate for him to discuss Martin while he remained under contract mid-season.
"There's absolutely no link between these two stories, these two players," Harley told SEN last week.
"We have had no contact, nor conversations with Dustin Martin, he's not our player and it would be inappropriate for us to do that.
"I am a little bewildered by how the story around Dustin keeps resurfacing and resurfacing with a strong connection to the Swans.
"I sit very comfortable with the conversations that we are having with Lance and the privacy of those conservations.
"We also understand at the same time that people will speculate, people will look to unearth stories out of information and I'm not overly concerned with how it (the story) came about."
Despite his frustration, Harley acknowledged the massive interest the future of a player of Franklin's calibre carried among fans of the league.
He said it would be unfair on both Franklin and the club to go into much detail about their contract negotiations.
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