Collingwood are considering trading ruckman Brodie Grundy to reigning premiers Melbourne this off-season in a bid to further reduce its salary cap crunch.
The Magpies bounced back from a dour 2021 season to almost make the grand final, falling one point shy in the preliminary final in a revitalising year for the club under rookie coach Craig McRae.
His arrival was foreshadowed by the controversial departures of former midfielders Adam Trelaor and Jaidyn Stephenson to alleviate their cap strife prior to the season, as well as numerous other off-field distractions that marred their season.
Under McRae, the Magpies put together a remarkable winning streak through a series of close games to emerge as a genuine finals contender - albeit without Grundy, who has been sidelined for much of the season through injury.
Grundy signed a five-year deal with Collingwood in 2020 worth roughly $7 million all up - making the 28-year-old's contract a hefty hit to the books.
Having already been linked to trade rumours, Grundy's time at Collingwood is reportedly up according to the Herald Sun's Jon Ralph, who was baffled as to why Collingwood would move on from him after a down year with injuries.
“Let me tell you what’s happening – I can’t explain why it’s happening,” Ralph told Fox Footy's On The Couch.
“So at Collingwood Brodie Grundy has played his last game at the club, barring an extraordinary backflip. This has all been driven by Collingwood, not Grundy.
“My understanding is the football boss Graham Wright met with Grundy’s management and said we need his cap space off the books.
"It enabled him to look around, he chose Melbourne over Port Adelaide and Geelong.
“He only wants to go to Melbourne, he will go to Melbourne."
Ralph was puzzled by Collingwood's motives, pointing out that they had been troubled by dominant ruckman this season, particularly in the prelim against Sydney, and that Grundy's return would surely bolster that area.
Melbourne not shy about pursuit of Brodie Grundy
The beaten preliminary finalists will be a major player when the trade period officially opens on October 3.
Brisbane's Dan McStay, GWS forward Bobby Hill and Adelaide's Billy Frampton are all expected to join the Pies next season - with the latter duo already nominating Collingwood as their preferred destination.
The Demons are eyeing Grundy as a replacement for their ruckman Luke Jackson, who has requested a trade to his home city of Perth, with Fremantle the frontrunners to sign him.
Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin wants Grundy to partner first-choice ruck and captain Max Gawn.
"We have spent some time analysing how that would look within our game system and style," Goodwin told Fox Sport's AFL360 program.
"We think it works for us as a team. We'll go all out to fill that void that Luke Jackson is going to lose for us, and Brodie is one of those players we're looking at."
Collingwood have cleared list space for a batch of AFL trade targets by delisting four players, including the sons of former captain Gavin Brown.
Collingwood have axed Callum Brown and his younger brother Tyler, as well as Isaac Chugg and Liam McMahon from their playing roster for next season.
The Magpies on Tuesday announced the delistings of the Brown brothers, Chugg, who played two AFL games this season, and McMahon, who has not featured at AFL level.
Callum Brown played 70 AFL games for the Magpies after being a father-son selection at the 2016 draft, while Tyler featured 27 times in AFL ranks over the past three seasons.
"Decision-making at this time of the year is always tough," Collingwood's football manager Graham Wright said in a statement.
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