AFTER the completion of the 2012 AFL season the league will be revolutionised by the introduction of free agency.
For eligible players this will give them the ability to leave their current club, bypassing the draft and trade periods, and essentially pick their next employer themselves. For the AFL, this will be an unprecedented change.
In the lead up to the introduction of free agency Football Nation is running a series of articles by guest writer Sam Mills that will focus on what free agency will do to your club at the end of the season.
Byrnes would have to be the most dangerous threat for Geelong. The two-time premiership player played only five matches last season, being named an emergency for the Grand Final, and is clearly not part of Chris Scott’s best 22. He has played only 4 games this season and the 28-year old would be looking for more game time as he career enters its twilight. A big possibility to move as an unrestricted free agent.
The 30-year old has played every game so far this season, and although arguably is not in the best form, Scott would want to keep him around the club for a few years yet, particularly to tutor the young Cats. Should sign a new one-year contract but is an unrestricted free agent.
It is fair to say that Enright is one of the most underrated players of the modern era. Since debuting in 2001 he has featured in four All-Australian sides and four premierships (3 Day & 1 Night). He has also won two Carji Greeves Medal’s for Geelong’s Best and Fairest, both in Premiership years, yet he is never mentioned up there with Matthew Scarlett and Jimmy Bartel. The 30-year old unrestricted free agent should be staying at Kardinia Park for at least one season yet.
Hunt’s bravery has been questioned a fair bit during his 11 seasons in the AFL, but his record certainly hasn’t. The two-time premiership player has played over 170 matches and should get to 200 in the next few years if he gets to play on. The question is whether Chris Scott wants to blood a younger player in the place of Hunt. Still expected to re-sign for a season. He is an unrestricted free agent.
Geelong are said to have already entered contract negotiations with their 28-year old mercurial star. Cats football manager Neil Balme says that the club have not even thought of Johnson leaving as an unrestricted free agent, and the 2007 Norm Smith Medalist probably wouldn’t have either. He still has a lot left in the tank. Will re-sign for two seasons.
Scarlett will not leave Geelong as an unrestricted free agent, but as a six-time All Australian, three-time Premiership winner, one-time Carji Greeves Medalist and one of the best full backs to ever grace the game as he looks set to retire at the end of the season.
It was reported earlier this year that ‘Wojo’ looks more likely than non-likely to play on into the 2013 season. But with the Pick 24 from the 1998 draft stuck on 199 games with not one to his name this season, it doesn’t look very likely. Another three-time premiership star, Wojcinski now looks likely to retire at seasons end.
Chris Scott and Neil Balme will have some dilemmas at the end of this season with the impending retirements of players such as Scarlett and Wojcinski. But on the free agency front, their only real worry is Shannon Byrnes. He still appears to have some good footy left in him, but it doesn’t look like there is a space for him. In the end, he will probably leave the club after 10 years.
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