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‘Biggest summer of all time’ looms in AFL trade bonanza. These 41 could be involved

The AFL trade landscape is heating up and then some.

We’ve reached scorching hot temperatures in recent weeks as some of the biggest names in football have been linked to moves.

Commentator Dwayne Russell went so far to predict this trade and free agency period could be “the biggest summer of all time”.

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“Is there going to be a bigger (trade) merry-go-round than we’ve ever seen?” Russell posed on AFL Nation earlier this month.

And with so much intrigue around this year’s trade period, has delved intothe current state of play involving the game’s biggest stars.

Let’s start with some of the moves that appear more likely to happen.

They don’t come much bigger than reports over the last month linking Demons star Luke Jackson (non free agent) to Fremantle.

The Herald Sun’s Jon Ralph reported on Fox Footy the Dockers are “extremely confident” of landing Jackson as Melbourne “loses hope” of keeping the former Pick 3.

Ralph revealed the 20-year old West Australian has even told those close to him he wants to be a Docker — though he’s yet to make up his mind for certain, with the Eagles also in the mix but seemingly less likely.

Further adding momentum to the move is that Jackson in March this year reportedly purchased a $1.74 million house in WA suburb Shelley — not far from where he grow up. But of course, Western Bulldogs star and WA native Tim English bought a property in the Fremantle area late last year amid speculation around his future before recommitting to Whitten Oval.

It’s believed Jackson could earn close to $1 million on his next contract, while the Demons are unlikely to match rival offers but could still table a competitive deal.

Will Jackson seek a trade back to WA? (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)Source: FOX SPORTS

If Jackson does indeed request a trade to Freo, Melbourne will undoubtedly demand a large trade haul in return.

And the flow-on effect of the Dockers potentially acquiring Jackson for such a lucrative sum is that it could force others to be tipped out including Rory Lobb (out of contract end of 2024), Griffin Logue, Blake Acres (both non FAs), Joel Hamling (out of contract end of 2023) and Connor Blakely (unrestricted free agent).

Lobb, who’s in the midst of a career-best season with 30 goals from 16 games, has been strongly linked to the Bulldogs on a four-year deal to provide the club another strong marking target inside 50.

Meanwhile several Victorian clubs in need of key-position stocks have been linked to Logue, and Acres’ management has reportedly been shopping him around to rivals in hopes of getting a better deal.

The other big-name Demon who faces an uncertain future is Angus Brayshaw (restricted free agent).

Brayshaw, who’s taken on a more prominent role for Melbourne this season across half back, has averaged 24.7 disposals and 8.4 marks per game.

The likes of Geelong, Carlton and Fremantle — where younger brother Andrew plays — are among the clubs believed to have interest in the 26-year old, who told CODE when asked if he’d like to stay a Demon next year: “I bet you’d like to know. I’m conscious of not giving everyone the headline. But I love the club, I love my teammates. That’s something that will take care of itself.”

Things got more complicated on Thursday night when it was revealed Brayshaw had met with Essendon coach Ben Rutten and head of footy Josh Mahoney.

It feels very unlikely both Brayshaw and Jackson would leave, though.

The Bombers are also said to be interested in out-of-contract small forward Toby Bedford, frequently the sub for Melbourne this year but impressing observers, having played just two games in his first three AFL seasons.

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Port Adelaide winger Karl Amon (UFA) is another name who’s constantly come up in trade talks this season amid interest from several Victorian clubs including the Saints, Demons, Blues and Hawks, while the latter recently pulled out of the race.

It’s believed the 26-year old could field offers worth around $650,000 a season over five years, with Hawthorn the current favourite for his services.

Power football boss Chris Davies even admitted in an interview on SEN last month the “longer it goes” that Amon stays unsigned beyond 2022, the “less likely” it is he’ll remain at Alberton.

Then there’s former Blues defender Liam Jones, who’s now met with the Western Bulldogs and Essendon as the 31-year old weighs up several options for a return to the competition in 2023.

Jones sensationally retired last November due to the league’s vaccine mandate — a mandate that was removed this month.

Carlton is not expected to re-draft Jones, but will likely seek compensation if he plays for another club next year given the circumstances of his exit.

Another expected move is Lions key forward Dan McStay (UFA) joining Collingwood on a five-year deal, $3 million deal.

The price tag for the 27-year old been met with some scrutiny given McStay has never booted than more than 28 goals in a season, albeit playing as a defender throughout key stretches of his career.

In order to land McStay the Magpies may need to off-load salary including Jordan De Goey (RFA) and Brodie Grundy’s$5 million contract for another five seasons.

Rival clubs are circling De Goey (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)Source: FOX SPORTS

De Goey’s future at Collingwood seems less certain amid reports his management are shopping him around to rival clubs as Geelong and St Kilda circle after the Pies withdrew their contract offer — a two-year deal with a trigger for another two years, totalling $3.2 million — for his Bali exploits.

The 26-year old has played just one game since he’s been sanctioned for the overseas incident, with journalist Sam McClure revealing this week he’s “unlikely” to stay in black and white.

“I’d be shocked and amazed if Jordan De Goey isn’t playing for either Geelong or St Kilda next year,” McClure said on Channel 9’s Footy Classified.

Talks of a Grundy trade have heated up in recent weeks after the Magpies have won 9 of 11 games he’s missed with a knee injury as Darcy Cameron has emerged in the number one ruck role.

Reports this week suggested rivals have been told Grundy was “very gettable” — if the right deal presents — at season’s end, although complicating any move is his monster salary.

Would Collingwood really be willing to chip in part of his wage to play at another club after they’re already doing so with Adam Treloar at the Western Bulldogs?

There’s been separate reports that Collingwood could explore a mega deal with GWS for Grundy, while his manager even met with Giants football boss Jason McCartney this week.

It comes amid the Magpies’ interest in Giants trio Tim Taranto, Tanner Bruhn and Bobby Hill (all non FAs).

GWS loom as an interesting watch this trade period amid salary cap pressure at the club, with reporter Tom Browne revealing it needs to clear in excess of $1 million from its books.

In addition to Collingwood, Richmond, Geelong and Essendon have all been linked to the 24-year old Taranto.

Taranto could be on the move (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source: FOX SPORTS

Meanwhile Jacob Hopper, who’s contracted until the end of 2023, is also being courted by rivals including the Cats, Tigers and Crows.

It’s expected that Hopper is more likely to be dealt if Taranto re-signs with the Giants, with at least one of the two midfield stars seemingly set to be forced out of the club.

However on Thursday night McClure reported both could go, along with Hill and Bruhn in another Giants “exodus”, with the club willing to undergo a bit of a “reset”.

If both Taranto and Hopper leave, that’s two young gun midfielders worth a first-round pick on the market, making things rather interesting.

Then there’s the bubbling whispers that could really shake things up.

What first started off as football’s biggest rumour has grown serious traction, with talk that Dustin Martin could seek a move away from Tigerland at season’s end to join Sydney despite being contracted at Punt Road for two more seasons worth a total of $2.4 million.

It comes after the 31-year old earlier this year took personal leave from Richmond as he dealt with the death of his father, Shane.

While GWS has also been touted as a landing spot, the Swans are considered the more likely destination should the three-time Norm Smith medallist request a trade.

However Sydney CEO Tom Harley has twice downplayed interest in the Tigers superstar, insisting “there has been no conversations with Dustin.”

And making any trade difficult is that both NSW clubs already face salary cap pressure and would struggle to fit one of the highest-paid players in the game into their books without pulling other significant moves.

Speaking of massive names, Swans superstar Lance Franklin (RFA) has been linked to a shock move himself amid reports he was frustrated by a low-ball contract offer by the club worth around $500,000 per season.

Franklin is nearing the end of his historic contract (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)Source: FOX SPORTS

The 35-year old, who’s nearing the end of his mega nine-year, $10 million deal with the Swans, is reportedly seeking a contract in the $700,000 range.

It comes despite a separate report that Franklin was “bemused” by such speculation on his next contract, while Harley said “he’s not concerned” the champion forward remains unsigned while denying the club was stockpiling funds to lure Martin.

Although he’s clearly no longer the player he once was, Franklin has still booted 35 goals from 15 games to sit 15th in the Coleman Medal race amid a strong season.

As fanciful as it may seem, journalist Jay Clark went so far to question if a Martin-for-Franklin swap could be on the cards in what could well go down as the biggest trade in AFL history.

Other names to watch …

Gun Adelaide midfielder Matt Crouch is reportedly open to moving clubs at season’s end if the right option becomes available after falling out of favour at West Lakes.

The 2017 All-Australian, who was a free agent last year before signing a two-year extension, has been dropped from the senior team on three separate occasions this season.

Another player who’s fallen down the pecking order is Carlton’s former Pick 3 Paddy Dow (out of contract end of 2023), who reporter Tom Browne revealed has interest from Geelong and Richmond — where his younger brother players.

Dow, 22, has played just two senior games for the much-improved Blues in 2022.

Browne also revealed Giants star Lachie Whitfield, who’s contracted until 2027 on a lucrative deal worth up to $900,000 per season, was “in theory available” and “a bit frustrated” with the club, but noted a move was unlikely given the 28-year old’s big-money salary.

Two years after Western Bulldogs gun Josh Dunkley’s (non FA) failed trade request to Essendon, he loomed as one of the big potential movers to watch, while there was even talk he and his partner could be lured to South Australia.

But there’s since been reports of momentum in contract talks between Dunkley and the Dogs as the 25-year old now appears set to remain at Whitten Oval.

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Fellow Dogs star Bailey Smith (non FA) is also still uncontracted beyond this year, although it’s believed he’s nearing a two-year extension.

On the topic of near re-signings, Gold Coast Suns young gun Izak Rankine (non FA) is almost certain to extend his tenure with the club despite heavy interest from rivals.

Elsewhere, Richmond has several key players out of contract itself including Nathan Broad, Daniel Rioli, Liam Baker (all non FAs), Kane Lambert (RFA), Trent Cotchin, Jack Riewoldt and Shane Edwards (all UFAs).

It’s emerged that Rioli is nearing a long-time contract extension with the club in a key coup, while the Tigers would surely be desperate to lock away Baker also amid interest from the Western Australian clubs, in particular the Eagles.

But with intriguing decisions to come on veterans Cotchin, Riewoldt and Edwards, could rival clubs pounce in a bid to add experience?

There’d been some uncertainty around Essendon skipper Dyson Heppell’s (UFA) future, with the Bombers yet to table him an extension as recently as last week as rivals circled.

But AFL Media reports Essendon has put forward a one-year offer for 2023 to the 30-year old veteran.

The same report states Brisbane’s depth players including Deven Robertson (non FA), Tom Berry (out of contract end of 2024) and potentially Rhys Mathieson (RFA end of 2023) are generating interest from clubs.

And clubs are also reportedly keeping an eye on West Coast utility Jackson Nelson (UFA), who’s yet top kick off contract talks with the Eagles.

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North Melbourne veteran ruckman Todd Goldstein (UFA) has previously knocked back approaches from rivals to depart Arden Street throughout his career including nearly getting traded to Geelong in 2019.

But reports earlier this year said the 34-year old was “almost certain” to look for a new home at season’s end as the rebuilding Roos prioritise developing youth.

It comes despite Goldstein telling Fox Footy’s On the Couch last month he was keen to play out his career at North, while revealing contract talks were up in the air.

Of course, there’s also been speculation that prized Pick 1 Jason Horne-Francis, who put off contract talks with the Roos beyond 2023, could request a trade away from the club amid an eventful first season, although that appears unlikely.

While nothing materialised when Hawthorn put several experienced players on the trade table last year in a bid to bring in more draft picks, the Hawks could look to shop their veterans again, with Jack Gunston (UFA) and Chad Wingard (non FA) both out of contract.

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