The 19 Biggest Questions For the 2019 AFL Offseason

THIS is one of my favourite times of the year in sport. The NFL is kicking, NBA buzz is well and truly alive and the AFL rumour mill is on absolute fire. Don’t go believing every Tom Browne tweet you read, but there are a lot of questions around who’ll end up where that we as the general public need answered. Where is Tim Kelly heading? Will Eddie be wearing a Blues again jersey next year? Will ANYONE be wearing a Crows one? We need answers!

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1. Where will Tim Kelly land?

IT’S the biggest offseason domino to fall and where Tim Kelly elects to play in 2020 could change the dynamic of the league, especially in WA. Linked with a move back home since this time last year, Kelly’s incredible start to his AFL career has jacked his price tag up, with the Eagles and Dockers preparing to offer Geelong the Earth in order to secure the star Cat. Of course, while we all expect him to leave Victoria this trade period, it would be in Geelong’s best interest to keep Kelly in navy blue hoops, so this move could take a while to eventuate. A decision is expected sometime after Geelong’s best and fairest night on Thursday and since we’ve waited this long what’s another week?

2. If West Coast won’t give up the necessary draft capital, who departs?

IF TK does, like many expect, nominate the Eagles as his preferred club, then they’ll need to be ready. There were previous reports stating the Cats would chase three top-30 selections in return for Kelly and after Gold Coast was handed a lifeline by the AFL, West Coast currently comes close holding the 14th, 24th and 33rd selection in the upcoming draft. If I was running the club I’d be prepared to part with those three picks for Kelly’s services, but if they aren’t as keen, then they’ll need to likely attach a young talent. Victorian-born Jarrod Brander immediately pops to mind after failing to secure regular games at the Eagles and he looms as the most sensible sweetener who could find himself thrown into the deal.

Jarrod BranderImage from sportingnews.com

3. Does Hawthorn have something up their sleeve?

NEVER trust the sleeping lion that is Alastair Clarkson. Hawthorn’s mastermind was rumoured to be on the move elsewhere this year, even though most of us weren’t falling for it and he’ll be hungry to return to the finals after finishing one win short of the top-8. Clarko and the Hawks haven’t missed the finals in consecutive seasons since his first two years in charge, back in 2005 & 2006 and with a Brownlow Medalist returning to the fray in Tom Mitchell and Jon Patton already declaring he wants to be a Hawk, there’s no reason why they won’t be back where they belong in 2020. A lot of people are curious to see if they can steal Patton from the Giants for the lowly price of pick No. 84 given the Giants’ salary cap squeeze. If they can do so, it may open the door for more maneuvering.

4. Can the Giants resign Jeremy Cameron and/or Lachie Whitfield before next season?

PART of the reason GWS is feeling the pinch is because of their upcoming free agents in 2020. Having already secured the long term signatures of Josh Kelly and Stephen Coniglio, Jeremey Cameron and Lachie Whitfield are the next two in line for a re-up. It’s been well documented that Giants have been selective over who they re-sign and it’s led to players like Dylan Shiel, Tom Boyd and Taylor Adams departing over the past few offseasons. GWS managed to deflect a lot of the potential drama this year by retaining Coniglio, but resigning their upcoming free agents in Cameron and Whitfield before the new season begins would be a huge coup for the franchise, especially after what unfolded last weekend.

5. Would the Suns dare separate Rowell and Anderson?

NO one was caught off guard to hear that the AFL handed the Gold Coast Suns some additional draft capital as they try to rebuild the club from the ground up. However, the bonanza of picks they were allocated was a lot more than some thought they’d receive with the Suns now the proud owners of four future picks in the next three season, including the top-2 picks in this year’s draft. Those two selections have been reserved for Oakleigh Chargers pair Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson for as long as anyone can remember and it seems like Gold Coast intends to keep the best mates together by relocating them to the sunny state of Queensland. However, as unlikely as it appears there’s still a chance that the Suns could trade either of the selections or opt to add someone like Caleb Serong and/or Hayden Young to their mix.

6. Why is North Melbourne so bad at fishing?

DUSTIN Martin, Andrew Gaff, Jordan De Goey, Josh Kelly and now not even Tom Papely wants to be at North Melbourne! After failing to land the big star free agent they so desperately covet, the Roos will once again be forced to go back to the drawing board for their off-season plans with Papley’s deflection the latest in a string of missed opportunities for the club. It hasn’t helped that their drafting has been average at best over the past five seasons, making Rhyce Shaw’s job to climb the ladder all the more difficult.

7. Are any other premiership Tigers done at Punt Rd?

WE already know that Brandon Ellis is set to depart the club, joining the Gold Coast Suns on a reported $3 million/five-year deal, but will others follow? Given the tight-knit premiership group Richmond has built you’d think that they won’t have any issues retaining any of their stars, with players even flirting with the idea of taking a pay cut to stick around and capitalise on this potential dynasty. That doesn’t mean that some others won’t depart in an effort to secure more regular senior games, with Dan Butler one hot name linked to a potential move to the Blues. Kamdyn McIntosh, Jacob Townsend and Connor Menadue are a few other names that spring to mind and could explore a move elsewhere.

8. Does landing Joe Daniher make sense for the Swans?

MIXED reports around Joe Daniher’s future at Essendon continue to emerge with some believing he is staying and others of the belief he’ll chase a move to the Swans. Given Sydney’s current positioning you have to wonder if landing the big Don is the smartest investment, especially if you take his recent injury history into account. Having only played in 11 games over the past two seasons, throwing a decent chunk of change at the promising forward could backfire if they can’t pair him in front of the sticks with superstar Lance Franklin and achieve success. It’s a big commitment for a club who just finished 15th on the ladder and if Papley leaves as part of the Daniher move the Swans had better make sure his addition pays off.

Joe DaniherImage from foxsports.com.au

9. How much can Fremantle get for Bradley Hill and Ed Langdon?

DOCKERS fans are still high on nostalgia after landing Justin Longmuir as their new head coach, but for the second straight season, they’re set to lose integral parts of their team. After Lachie Neale’s departure last year, they insisted that they will be able to retain players in the future, but a move to Victoria appears the likely outcome for both Bradley Hill and Ed Langdon. With St Kilda and Melbourne respectively interested to the duo it’s important for the Dockers to play hardball and land the draft compensation that the general public sees fit for two of their top players. Pick No. 6 from the Saints and No. 22 from the Dees have been lobbied around and netting both of them would give Freo four selections inside the top-30 of this year’s draft which could go a long way to completing the foundation of their rebuild.

10. Who’s moving back into the first-round?

AS it stands right now, after wheeling and dealing in the past both Essendon and Collingwood have no picks inside the first round and I’m sure if the opportunity arose, they’d love to re-enter the early part of the draft. Hawthorn has proven to be notorious sellers in the past while the Lions, Suns and Giants all have selections that they could ship away for future gains. Just exactly how the player movement period unfolds could be telling over which club will enter November’s draft with another early bite at the cherry or perhaps they’ll even get hungry on draft night.

11. Have we seen the last of ‘The Little Master’?

SAY it ain’t so Gaz! After 18 pro seasons and 345 games of battering and bruising the footballing world is holding their breath as we await Gary Ablett Jr’s decision. The Cats are prepared to offer him a contract, but they’re unsure whether he’ll go around again in 2020 or if instead, his days playing the AFL are over. At this stage, it seems that the Geelong and Gold Coast champion will return, but there are no certainties, despite Ablett being in fringe All-Australian form this year playing 24 games, his most over a single season since 2010. I think I speak on behalf of everyone when I say we’d love to see him back for another go-around (or two), but I’m sure over the coming weeks Ablett will put us out of our misery.

12. What does Willie Rioli’s future hold?

PERSONALLY, I feel sorry for Willie Rioli, who may have thrown away the best thing going for him in a puff of smoke (too soon?). Of course, he only has himself to blame for the situation he finds himself in after multiple allegations/reports surfaced in the past month over Rioli testing positive to marijuana and tampering with a urine sample. Gillon McLachlan warned that the 24-year old could pay a hefty price for these incidents and there is a chance that he’ll cop a maximum ban of four years for his indiscretions. It’d be a shame if his athletic prime was wasted for these misdemeanours, but once again, Rioli is the one at fault.

13. How do the Crows stop the bleeding?

IT might seem like a stretch, but the Adelaide Crows appear to be a club in turmoil. They’ve failed to generate many positive headlines since their 2017 Grand Final loss and this offseason could see the wheels really fall off the wagon. Potentially 10 established players are looking for a move away from West Lakes, with reports already beginning to surface stating which players are likely leaving the club to sign elsewhere. With Don Pyke throwing in the towel as well, the Crows will have their work cut out for themselves in 2020 and beyond to restore the faith in their program. The current owners of the oldest list in the league, it might not be too bad for Adelaide to trim a bit of the elder fat, but it might hurt their image.

14. Who else can the Bulldogs pry away from their foes?

SPEAKING of the Crows, it appears that contracted backmen Alex Keath has a desire to move back to his native state of Victoria with Josh Bruce another big man who has expressed his interest to swap his Saints jersey for a Dogs one. Adding those two pillars to their mix would be a great coup for the Bulldogs, who, in my eyes, have one of the most promising young lists in the competition. They might not be done there though, with Footscray reportedly eyeing off a blockbuster move by landing Hawk stud Isaac Smith, a move that would be a massive get for the club. Dare to dream Dogs fans.

15. If Melbourne really does want to sell pick No. 3, who’s buying?

IT’S wise not to buy into all the rumours and reports you here at this time of year, but one of the most recent ones doing the rounds is the Demons looking to offload the third overall selection in the upcoming draft. After being pushed out of second place by the AFL thanks to Gold Coast’s compensation package, there is growing interest at Melbourne that this pick could be used for some immediate help in an effort to replicate their 2018 heroics when they made it all the way to a preliminary final. It might be in the best interest of the Swans and/or Roos to move up the draft order to land a player they covet and potentially restock their star calibre talent supplies.

16. Will restocking their small forwards propel the Blues?

CARLTON seems poised to welcome a healthy influx of talent this trade period, with multiple players declaring the Blues as their preferred new home. Jack Martin, Dan Butler, Tom Papley and former fan favourite Eddie Betts have all been linked to the club recently, potentially providing the squad with a plethora of small forwards to choose from. They might not land all of these aforementioned players, but more firepower in front of the sticks to support Charlie Curnow, Mitch McGovern and Harry McKay would give Blues fans a lot to like about their future.

17. Who will be the busiest club?

THIS ones easy, and I think daylight might finish second. Adelaide probably won’t lose all the players who have been associated with other AFL clubs, but with their head coach gone and a big chunk of their nucleus set to follow, the Crows are going to have their hands full this offseason. Let’s not forget their draft-day deal with Carlton last year that netted them the fourth overall pick come draft night as well, which, depending on how the next few weeks go, could be moved as they launch into a full-blown rebuild. Testing times at the Crows.

18. Who will be the quietest club?

I expect Josh Bruce to become a Dog, but Alex Keath (and their pipedream of landing Isaac Smith) is no certainty. On the other side of the ball, Tory Dickson is really the only current player who might depart, making for what I think will be a quiet offseason for the Dogs. There’s a chance that they’ll dip their feet into the water and explore other ways to strengthen their list, but with a promising young core and a lot of draft selections inside the top-50, the only other deals I can see them making are for future assets.

19. The one player NO ONE expects to move but will find a new club is…?

OLLIE Wines and it might be as part of an Orazio Fantasia trade. Sam Powell-Pepper has been the name most recently associated with Essendon as they covet another bullocking midfielder to feed the ball out to their premier talent on the outside. Prying Wines away from Port after a topsy-turvy season might be worth the gamble though, with the Power co-captain still able to provide plenty for the Bombers. If this deal was to eventuate there’s no denying that Essendon would have to sacrifice more than just Fantasia, but if they can find the necessary young talent/draft capital they could convince the Power to send Wines packing.

Peace ✌

Banner from foxsports.com.au

3 thoughts on “The 19 Biggest Questions For the 2019 AFL Offseason

  1. As a crows fan can’t complain about the clean out, none of the players except Keath are best 18, Keath only had one good year just warming Doedee’s position.

    Best trade picks the club has ever had, combined with two years of solid drafting has crows to turnaround a quick rebuild.

    My analysis is that the club was so strong after Phil Walsh was murdered, up to the GF, one bad game, which just broke them.

    Club will bounce back, don’t mind the Vic media hate and glee, it’s a bit over the top but it will make the thrashings of Carlton, Essendon, et al all the more enjoyable in the coming years.

    Note we were the only club to beat both Richmond and GWS in 2019 (rest of the season s**t though).

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