AFL player movement set to ramp up

Shayne Hope
·3-min read

AFL trade period player movement is expected to kick up a gear from Monday, with star forward Jeremy Cameron leading a host of big names yet to learn where their playing futures lie.

Cameron (GWS), Adam Treloar (Collingwood), Josh Dunkley (Western Bulldogs), Ben Brown (North Melbourne) and Essendon duo Adam Saad and Orazio Fantasia are all among the group of players in limbo after the jostling of clubs during the opening few days of the annual exchange window.

The trade period, which began last Wednesday, concludes this coming Thursday.

It is playing out with clubs still in the dark about the size of next year's playing lists and salary cap amid AFL-enforced cost-cutting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The "bizarre" situation - as described by Melbourne chief executive Gary Pert - serves as an unusual backdrop that makes this period tricky for clubs to successfully navigate.

Cameron has been the subject of a tug-of-war between Geelong and GWS, who matched the Cats' bid for the restricted free agent in order to force a possible trade.

The 2019 Coleman Medal winner formally requested a move to Geelong and the two clubs remain in contact.

The Cats hold three first-round draft selections after securing extra picks from West Coast in a trade for midfielder Tim Kelly last year, and could be forced to use one or more of those in their efforts to land Cameron.

The Giants have already secured troubled forward Jesse Hogan from Fremantle in exchange for pick 54, and are hopeful of landing a first-round draft selection from Essendon in exchange for wantaway midfielder Jye Caldwell, who was taken with pick 11 in the 2018 draft.

The Bombers hold picks six and seven in this year's draft and are trying to land Dunkley from the Bulldogs while also negotiating a deal that would send Saad to Carlton, the dashing defender's preferred destination.

Fantasia appears set to move home to South Australia, with Port Adelaide needing to come up with an attractive offer to persuade the Bombers to part with their injury-prone small forward, who is contracted until the end of next year.

Dunkley, a premiership player contracted to the Bulldogs to 2022, shocked the club with a request to be traded and cited a desire to spend more time as an on-baller with Essendon.

He was used in a range of roles, including short spells in the ruck, by the Dogs this year.

The Bulldogs are interested in out-of-contract Brisbane ruckman Stefan Martin, who could be a valuable ruck partner for emerging tall Tim English.

The Dogs are also monitoring Treloar's situation after Collingwood's stunning decision to attempt to offload the midfielder with five years to run on his contract.

The messy situation has come about with the Magpies trying to manage their tight salary cap, with star forward-midfielder Jordan De Goey yet to re-sign with the club.

Fellow Magpie Tom Phillips could land at Hawthorn as a replacement for Geelong-bound Isaac Smith, while Gold Coast tall Peter Wright has attracted interest from Essendon.

Brown has led North Melbourne's goal kicking in four of the past five years but had a disappointing 2020 season and has been told he is unwanted by the Kangaroos, who are still searching for a new coach.

He has requested a move to Melbourne, who have indicated they will not give up a first-round draft pick in order to get the deal done.

Classy veteran Shaun Higgins could also leave the Kangaroos, with Geelong a likely destination.

St Kilda's Luke Dunstan and the Giants' Jackson Hately (both Adelaide), Geelong's Nakia Cockatoo (Brisbane), Melbourne's Mitch Hannan (Bulldogs) and Brisbane's Alex Witherden (West Coast) have all attracted interest from rival clubs.