Top 25 AFL trade and free agency targets
WITH one round to go, trade and free agency talk is hitting fever pitch as players, agents and clubs hit the phones with an eye to 2020.
The market is changing by the week - Jamie Elliott and Todd Goldstein boosted their value with brilliant games on the weekend while Jack Steven's stocks took a hit with a quiet game against Carlton.
Newscorp's Jon Ralph rates the top 25 uncontracted* players right now - and where they might play next season (*Brad Hill and Jack Steven are contracted but will request trades).
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1. Stephen Coniglio (GWS)
How often does the perfect package come on the market at 25 as a ball-winning, goalkicking, pressuring future captain - and you don't have to give up a pick for the restricted free agent? His last game before his knee injury is the perfect example - 160 ranking points against Brisbane, with 34 possessions, 20 contested, 14 ground ball gets, 85 pressure points and five score involvements. Carlton should offer this bloke $1.5 million a year over seven years if that's what it takes. If he's the Hawks' first million dollar player, their fans should still rejoice. He's that much of a game-changer he's worth $10.5 million.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Has averaged the most goals of any midfielder this season and the fourth most score assists.
2. Tim Kelly (Geelong)
A quieter past five weeks but a stunning year as a goalkicker and centre clearance expert still improving at age 25. The downside is the extraordinary price Geelong would make you pay. West Coast has two picks in the top 25 - the Eagles have Sydney's second-rounder, but even that is unders. As an ambit claim the Cats should ask for Oscar Allen as the Tom Hawkins replacement and a first-rounder. Sean Darcy wasn't thrilled with the Freo setup last year when Lachie Neale also left - will he be on the move if Fremantle get active?
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Has averaged the third-most goals of any midfielder this season and ranks seventh for metres gained.
3. Brad Hill (Fremantle)
Imagine Jack Billings on one wing and Brad Hill on the other for St Kilda, surging up and down Marvel Stadium. Hill has already indicated to the Dockers he is leaving, with clubs sure to come from the clouds if they miss out on Stephen Coniglio. At only 26 he's worth the world. An elite metres gained and scoreboard impact wingman who at 26 could play another 150 games for your club. Clubs would give a late top-ten pick. But would they want something back? Even if St Kilda handed over pick five and made some canny late picks (after Nick Hind, Matthew Parker and Callum Wilkie last year) the net gain from that haul would be massive.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Ranks No.1 among wingmen for metres gained and score assists, and second for score involvements.
4. Zak Jones (Sydney)
There hasn't been a time he's fallen out of contract where he hasn't been linked to a Victorian club. This time the informed speculation is St Kilda and Melbourne. Only 24, and his year has been good, but not great, with only two 100-ranking point games. But at his best he's an elite clearance player who hasn't got many weaknesses and can cut you apart with precise kicking. Maybe worth a late first-rounder, but Sydney will back its culture to keep him.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Rates above average for a wingman for disposals, metres gained, inside-50s and score involvements.
5. Ed Langdon (Fremantle)
Ross Lyon says the Dockers believe they can keep him but, like Zak Jones, he is continually linked to a return home. Melbourne is the club many expect him to land at. In five seasons his best ranking points average in a year is 83, but no one doubts his ability to rack it up. Averages 24.4 touches this year, fresh off coaches votes as Freo's second-best player behind Nathan Fyfe against St Kilda then on Saturday night new career-highs with 36 disposals and 853 metres gained against Essendon. Kicking efficiency has hovered at around 60 per cent this year. Would give the Demons outside run, which they desperately need. Worth an early second-rounder or even more to a Melbourne team desperate for a spark.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Rates above average for disposals, metres gained, uncontested possessions and inside-50s.
6. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (Essendon)
Is he a barometer because he inspires Essendon to great feats when he is on but goes missing too often? Or does his output depend upon Essendon's ball flow? If you wanted to pay him $600,000 a year to get him out of the Dons - and he will likely stay - you would want to have worked out that conundrum beforehand. Only two goals in the Bombers' nine losses and 25 in their wins. His best wins them matches - he was instrumental again against Fremantle - and after 34 goals (2017), 26 (2018) and 28 so far this year you plug him in for 30 goals if you recruit him. Elite for forward-50 pressure and kicking but doesn't get it much, averaging just 11 touches this year (below average).
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Ranks third for a general forward for score assists and for forward-half pressure points.
7. Jack Martin (Gold Coast)
Like Tom Lynch before him, go back to his best years to see his potential if he played in a great team. Clubs won't be scared about him being dropped off a five-week thumb injury.
As recently as 2017 he averaged 18 possessions and 1.1 goals a game as a half-forward who could impact stoppages of be isolated one-on-one. Plug him in for 30 goals and 350 classy possessions in an elite team, with Carlton and the Dogs part of the chasing pack. A Dogs' half-forward line with him and Bailey Dale has a lethal edge.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Has averaged the second-most disposals of his career in 2019 but the fewest goals of his career.
8. Jack Steven (St Kilda)
Significant red flags remain about Steven, who joked about being a "bit fat" and quite unfit after his matchwinning performance against Freo. The talent is sky-high and he only turns 30 in March. Geelong would believe under its system handing players more time off he might flourish after mental health issues. But is him moving closer to his old mates a good thing or a challenge? Chris Scott wasn't just driving down the market on AFL360 last Monday night, the club would have to do their due diligence on a player who has missed massive chunks of 2019. Came back to earth against Carlton after his superb Freo game.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Rates above average this season for a mid-forward for disposals, metres gained, inside-50s, goals and score involvements.
Another Crow looking for a long-term deal and not getting it yet because of his age (28 this January), a late starter after a middling cricket career. Loves the club and the city, so a Victorian club like the Bulldogs would need to drag him out with a four-year deal. Why wouldn't the Dogs throw that deal at him given their premiership window surely beckons? The spine would look rosy all of a sudden with Zaine Cordy-Alex Keath-Tim English-Aaron Naughton-Josh Schache. Let's remember Schache is still only 21. At 197cm Keath has this year been an elite intercept player who has also averaged elite disposals for a defender (17 a game). Out with a mystery foot injury but the Dogs have stockpiled enough kids to push hard on Keath and make his go-or-stay decision a tough one.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Ranks fifth in the competition for intercept possessions per game and fifth for disposals among key defenders.
10. Hugh Greenwood (Adelaide)
Wants to stay at Adelaide but also wants a three-year deal at 27, which the Crows won't agree to yet. Turns 28 in March. At his best Greenwood is an elite pressure player (averaging six tackles this year) while also kicking goals (averaging 0.8 a game) and winning the hard ball. Has added versatility given he can play at half-forward. At 28 you certainly aren't giving the world for him, but Hawthorn, St Kilda, Gold Coast and Brisbane have interest according to his camp.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Has won 64 per cent of his possessions contested - the highest percentage of any player the AFL other than ruckmen.
11. Aaron Francis (Essendon)
Has been keen to postpone talks until he can see if there is a long-term position in the side. Michael Hurley's likely return this week, with Francis also likely back after a neck injury, will be instructive as to where he slots into the team. Has played 13 games this year but doesn't have a single game over 84 ranking points. Would you throw a high pick at Francis as a rival knowing he isn't your centre half-back given his height (192cm) and isn't a regular goalkicker (just six in 24 games and never more than a single goal in any given game). Recruiters would have to play the risky sharemarket game to believe he has big enough upside to throw the kitchen sink at him.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Has played 59 per cent game time down back this season, rating elite as a key defender when playing down back.
Rivals coming hard at him but as the Herald Sun reported last week, he loves Richmond and is keen to sign a new contract extension. So would need to be offered big cash to leave. Has done his prospects no harm with a scintillating year in the Tigers midfield, adding dash and dare. Still only averages 15 possessions and has kicked the ball terribly in the past three weeks (and was part of a 100m penalty last week against Carlton). But his upside is significant at only 21. Back Richmond in to sign him even if the former South Fremantle draftee has the outside run a club like Adelaide needs in their midfield mix.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Rates above average for a general forward for disposals, forward 50ground balll gets and score involvements.
13. Josh Jenkins (Adelaide)
Jenkins doesn't want to leave Adelaide, with a young family and a media career in town. But if we believed it was likely last month, Darcy Fogarty's five goals against West Coast surely showed the Crows the way forward. It's a great stat so we will repeat it - only 12 players have averaged more than two goals a game this year, and only the stars (Josh Kennedy, Jack Riewoldt and a handful of others) have matched Jenkins in averaging two goals a game over the past six seasons. He hasn't officially been linked to rivals and his salary over the next two years ($550,000 a season is an issue). But would he smooth that deal out over a three-year contract at a club like Melbourne, which needs goalkickers, forward presence and a foil for Tom McDonald, who vanished off the face of the earth for much of this year? Would you get it done with a late second-rounder or early third?
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Rates above average for disposals, forward-50ground balll gets and goals.
14. Brayden Sier (Collingwood)
About to sign a two-year deal at Collingwood but his attention to detail with his rehab all year and this week's incident playing social basketball won't help the Pies' mood with this inside mid. But his 12-game stretch in 2018 was a game-changer for the Pies, senior assistant Robert Harvey saying on the eve of the finals his size and power allowed them to do things with their midfield they hadn't before. In that stretch he averaged 19.5 touches, 3.9 clearances and 4.6 tackles before awipe-outt 2019 due to injury. Will likely stay but a club might come knocking offering a change of scenery and get a 21-year-old with a decade of footy ahead of him.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Has won 56 per cent of his possessions contested - the sixth-highest percentage of any player the AFL other than ruckmen.
Everyone talks about what he isn't - a Michael Voss-style crash and bash star who opponents fear. What he is at Richmond is a 26-year-old free agent with elite foot skills who averages 22 possessions this year with clean hands and an ability to playhalfbackk or wing. Slot that in next year and it immediately improves your side. Clubs would have to offer four or five years, but the Cats offered Luke Dahlhaus four years at about $2 million and that has turned out well so far. His game against Carlton shows what he can do - 22 touches at 71 per cent kicking efficiency, seven tackles, quality pressure. If you were a Fremantle or Carlton looking for a versatile wingman/utility you could do a lot worse.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Rates above average for disposals and had the third-best kicking efficiency of any wingman.
16. Todd Goldstein (North Melbourne)
Currently pondering a two-year deal with a clause at North and a straight-out three-year deal at St Kilda. As colleague Jay Clark has reported, the money is better at St Kilda too. But how much better might be the tipping point. Considering North has very little ruck cover, will they relent on the third year because Goldstein wants to stay a one-club player? If you watched him on Saturday night, you would realise they might have to meet his demands. As an unrestricted free agent his stats jump off the page. He has topped 100 rankings points in 13 of 20 games this year, including the past seven in a row. Rhyce Shaw simply can't afford to lose him as he pushes for finals next year. Given Goldstein has barely missed a game across his career, if it is the difference between keeping him and losing him, the Roos might have to bend despite his age (31 last month).
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Third-highest rated ruckman this season, rating above average for disposals,hit-outss-to-advantage and score involvements.
His five goals might be a game-changer given the Pies might have considered handing him a minimum chips deal before his breakout match against Adelaide. The beauty is his free agency status, courtesy of a one-year deal last season. Before that Adelaide clash it would have been hard to sell to your members handing over a big pay packet to an injury-prone small forward with poor pressure who has kicked only 15 goals in 12 games. But from 2013-17 he kicked 30, 33, 35 and 34 goals and the talent hasn't gone at only 26 (he is 27 next week). He has always wanted to stay at the Pies but their cap issues are well-advertised. For a club with significant cap space that has failed to secure their priority targets and needs goal power, you could do far worse, especially now his upside is apparent.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Rates elite for marks inside 50 and above average for goals, score assists and score involvements.
18. Stephen Hill (Fremantle)
An injury-ravaged year due to soft-tissue injuries would have clubs cautious given he turns 30 next May. But in his first nine years at the Dockers he didn't play fewer than 18 games and had seven 20-plus-game years. Keen to play with his brother and is an unrestricted free agent, which lessens his risk. Would have to back in your medical team to get three excellent years from a player knowing the upside is still massive.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Has missed 26 games through injury over the last three years, after missing just two games in the previous two seasons.
19. Paddy Ryder (Port Adelaide)
Another player who wants to stay at his second club but is being offered only a one-year deal on reduced terms. It's hard to see how he stays under any circumstances. Has played 15 games this year but long-term surely he's third in the ruck pecking order with Peter Ladhams the long-term prospect and Scott Lycett on a lengthy deal. GWS is the club making waves but would he go to St Kilda as ruck depth or even his former club given his capacity to play forward and as a stopgap along with Tom Bellchambers until Sam Draper grows into the role?
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Has won a hitout-to-advantage from 18 per cent of ruck contests - the second-best percentage in the competition.
A club like St Kilda or GWS could easily believe they could get two years out of him despite his determination to stay at the Crows on a one-year deal. Is back in the side but could offer a rival an ideal blend of quality tap work and around-the-ground presence. And his games total since arriving at Adelaide has gone like this: 19, 24, 22, 22, 23, 22, 25, 22 before this year's injury. We will say it again - you can't have too many rucks on an AFL list. The perfect insurance play, even at two years.
21. Adam Tomlinson (GWS)
Just turned 26 and at 194cm seems a jack of all trades and master of none. That's perfect for the Giants, but if you gave him $450,000-plus a year to drag him out of western Sydney you don't want a utility role player, you want someone who makes an impact. This year he has played as a wingman and taken part in every game, averaging 17 possessions and 6.3 marks. Linked closely to the Saints despite saying he wants to stay as a free agent. With Max King and Josh Battle emerging as key talls at either end, he would probably still play 20-plus games for a new club next year. And if you aren't giving up anything for a free agent and you have extreme cap space like a few Victorian clubs, you can see why some will be takers.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Rates above average for a wingman for contested possessions, clearances and score assists.
Has played only nine games as a general defender and wants to see if there is a continuing role for him at Whitten Oval before he re-signs. Last year he was in the top dozen in the league in intercept marks to the halfway mark of the season and still averages 2.3 of those per game. Has suitors who have seen his upside. His future might be determined by what the Dogs bring in over the trade period to add to their defensive stocks.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Rates average for a general for metres gained, uncontested possessions and tackles.
23. Jack Newnes (St Kilda)
His run of 123 consecutive games came to an end when he was dropped in July and while he has averaged 18 touches, he isn't a goalkicker this year - only four to date - and certainly wouldn't be getting a fat contract. If the Saints can bring in a wingman like Brad Hill it might push him out of the wing position.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Rates above average for a wingman for inside-50s,ground balll gets and score involvements.
Set to win a new contract at the Blues after playing a valuable role as a lead-up forward with good footy smarts, his early goal against St Kilda after a quick-fire handball from Matthew Kennedy yet another example. He's no world-beater but under David Teague's new system he has found a way to continue making an impact despite a lack of athletic gifts.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Rates above average for a general forward for marks inside 50, ground ball gets inside 50 and score assists.
25. Lewis Taylor (Brisbane)
Wants to stay but surely he's in another team's best side given his best footy is in the hard-to-find half-forward position. Has had an excellent NEAFL year, playing only five AFL games, including a 28-possession, six score-involvement return against Hawthorn. He was dropped after the loss to Carlton the next week but given you aren't giving up much for him, there are likely to be players for him.
CHAMPION DATA SAYS: Has averaged his fewest disposals since 2016 and his fewest goals since his debut season.