AFL trade period 2022: The good, the bad and the ugly

Jason Horne-Francis and Tanner Bruhn, pictured here after the AFL trade period.
The AFL Trade Period saw Jason Horne-Francis move to Port Adelaide, while Tanner Bruhn was secured by reigning premiers Geelong. Pictures: Twitter/Port Adelaide/Geelong Cats

😃 The Good: Essendon stabilise their list after off-field mayhem

😔 The Bad: Reigning premiers Geelong - the rich get richer

😡 The Ugly: Horne-Francis and Grundy trades expose reality of AFL business

The 2022 AFL Trade Period threw up plenty of surprises and tension right up to the deadline, with plenty of players on the move and an almost incalculable amount of future draft picks to boot.

While there weren't a whole heap of out-and-out shockers, here are some of the storylines that could go on to have a big impact on the 2023 season:

Essendon get back on track after CEO disaster

The less said about the 24-hour appointment of Andrew Thorburn as Essendon CEO the better at this point, but as far as their list goes, the Bombers look like they're heading in the right direction.

Though they'd made some bold claims of being aggressive with their salary cap space throughout the season, being overlooked by key free agents could be a blessing in disguise, retaining that flexibility for future moves should the club bounce back from a torrid 2022 campaign.

They were able to pay a bargain price to bring Carlton's Will Setterfield and Melbourne's Sam Weideman in, with Aaron Francis heading to the Swans.

Crucially, the Bombers kept a strong hand in this year's draft - picks 4 and 22 should net them a pair of quality young players, while a bevy of late-round selections could also end up being used on a diamond in the rough for incoming coach Chris Scott.

Aaron Francis takes a shot on goal for Essendon.
Aaron Francis departs Essendon after 54 games, looking for more opportunity with the Sydney Swans. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)


Reigning premiers load up on young talent

It wasn't a bad trade period for Geelong by any means, but the other 17 teams must be shifting nervously as the reigning premiers added three former top 10 picks, as well as pick 7 in this year's draft.

The Cats took on the hefty contract of the talented Jack Bowes and were handed pick 7 for their troubles, as well as securing Tanner Bruhn from GWS and Ollie Henry from Collingwood, despite some resistance from the Magpies.

They did have to give up a former top 10 pick of their own in Cooper Stephens as part of the three-way trade that secured Henry, but there's no doubt about it - the rich got richer in Geelong.


Two sides of the AFL trade coin

North Melbourne fans could be forgiven for having their heads in their hands after prized No.1 pick from 2021 Jason Horne-Francis demanded out of the club after just one season.

The Kangaroos ultimately wound up with picks 2 and 3 this year as well as securing Griffin Logue and Darcy Tucker from Fremantle in free agency, but Horne-Francis' departure bookended a torrid year fans will be hoping to quickly forget.

Conversely, Collingwood's decision to move on from ruckman Brodie Grundy showcased the other side of the coin, with the two-time club best and fairest reportedly unhappy to be told he was no longer a required player.

Horne-Francis copped criticism in some quarters for wanting out of the Kangaroos after one season, while Grundy's dreams of being a one-club player were dashed as the Magpies looked to ease their salary cap crunch with money taking precedence over his loyalty to the club.

There's really nothing wrong with either deal - the AFL is a business after all - but perhaps the talking heads around the league could bear keeping that in mind next year.


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