Trending topics

Select your station

We'll remember your choice for next time

The “serious” player movement “issue” more important than free agency


There’s been major outrage over the effectiveness of the AFL’s free agency model after GWS superstar Jeremy Cameron announced that he’s joining Grand Finalist Geelong.

Free agency isn’t perfect. For starters, the compensation model is a joke. As Terry Wallace pointed out, any system that has the potential to reward a higher draft pick for Brad Crouch than Jeremy Cameron is completely broken.

But in its entirety, I think free agency is good for the game. For a player like Cameron who has been at the Giants since he was a 17-year-old kid and spent around 10 seasons on the list, I’m okay with him choosing where he wants to finish his career.

I think that’s good for the players and good for the game.

But I’ll tell you what isn’t good for the game. Unproven players getting drafted, spending two years on a list, then nominating their club to leave on multi-million-dollar contracts.

Yesterday, GWS midfielder Jye Caldwell announced he’s off to Essendon on a five-year contract. He’s reportedly going to earn 500 thousand dollars a season. He’s played 11 games.

I’m not blaming the player, if you put 2.5 million dollars in front of any 20-year old, of course they will take. I’m blaming the system.

Jackson Hately is another Giant who has only spent two seasons at GWS and he’s out. He’s coming back to his home state to play with the Crows. It’s not right.

The Crows have also been on the other end. Jack Gunston’s exit was ugly after spending just two years at Adelaide and Jake Lever left after only three.

The Giants can’t complain either. They’ve been on the other end when they poached Melbourne’s 2009 first pick in the draft, Tom Scully, out after he spent only two years and 31 games at the Dees.

Lachie Weller left Fremantle for a mega deal to join the Gold Coast after only three years at the Dockers.

And who could forget Tom Boyd leaving the Giants for the Bulldogs on a seven-million-dollar deal when he had just nine games to his name.

It is a blight on the game and it wrecks the future plans of clubs.

The solution is easy.

As it stands now, any draftee is required to sign a guaranteed two-year contract. Their base wage and match payments are set. All the AFL needs to do is place an option for another two years that the CLUB can choose to trigger if they want to.

And the wage should continue to be set. We can’t have unproven, 11-game players like Caldwell continuing to leave, chasing money.

So at least AFL clubs, and those managing the lists, know that when they draft a player, they are guaranteed to have them for at least four years if they choose.
Let’s not get caught up in free agency drama, on the whole that system works.

Two-year players fleeing after two years at the one club is a much more serious issue.

More in AFL