Every club must cull their list at this time each year, but not all delistings are equal.
While the majority make sense when the news drops, others turn heads and clearly have deeper reasoning.
These players may get thrown a lifeline in the delisted free agency window, but the vast majority are dispersed to lower levels to fight for further chances.
There were a handful of surprising cuts this year and we have narrowed down the eight that caught us most by surprise.
We’ve opted to leave off the likes of Charlie Constable, Jarrod Brander and Jarrod Cameron who chose to be delisted for various reasons. Though all three did come as surprises.
We’ve also ignored those delisted with a promise of being rookie listed, like Carlton’s Lochie O’Brien, Richmond’s Noah Cumberland and Brisbane’s Cam Ellis-Yolmen.
Daniel Talia and Tom Lynch (Adelaide)
Adelaide has made the call to look to the future and that meant moving on a pair of veterans in Daniel Talia and Tom Lynch.
Talia missed the entirety of 2021 with nagging injuries and has made the call to retire rather than searching for a new AFL home. It would’ve been interesting to see whether he would have continued on in 2022 had the Crows offered him an extension.
Adelaide’s call to delist Lynch was equally surprising, and he will take up a development coaching role at North Melbourne next season, though the club may also list him.
The veteran forward finished his stint at the Crows with three impressive performances.
Trent Dumont (North Melbourne)
Dumont was mentioned as a player potentially on the trade table, but was ultimately delisted by North Melbourne.
It came as a surprise given he has been a reliable cog for the Roos for the last five years.
He finished fourth in the club’s 2019 best and fairest and was a regular in the side across his 113-game career.
The Roos made the call to cut Dumont, as well as veterans Shaun Atley and Tom Campbell, but it’s hard to see the inside midfielder not getting another chance elsewhere in 2022.
Like Adelaide, they’re looking to reshape their side and head in a different direction and that meant moving on from a few stalwarts.
Oscar Brownless (Geelong)
The Cats made the self-admitted tough call to part ways with Oscar Brownless, despite the son-of-a-gun finishing second in their VFL best and fairest.
Brownless didn’t play a game for the Cats given their list of veterans and push for a flag, but Geelong players were reportedly caught off guard by the decision.
The Cats players themselves being surprised is enough for the midfielder to make this list.
The son of club great Billy Brownless, Oscar averaged 22 disposals per game in the VFL after three years on the list.
Oliver Hanrahan (Hawthorn)
Small forward Oliver Hanrahan was delisted by the Hawks after 29 games across five seasons, including 12 in 2021.
The call was a surprise given he was named the club’s best first year player in 2019 and the side’s decision to play their younger players as part of this rebuild.
The Hawks have a few quality small forwards on their list, including Luke Breust, Dylan Moore and Chad Wingard.
Hanrahan has been linked with moves to the likes of St Kilda, GWS and Carlton as a delisted free agent. He could yet receive an AFL lifeline.
Hamish Hartlett (Port Adelaide)
Hamish Hartlett was surprised by Port Adelaide’s call to move on from him after the rebounding defender dealt with injury issues across 2021.
He played 193 games for the Power, 10 this season, and assuming he gets his body right, you could see Hartlett getting games elsewhere in 2022.
Port Adelaide has a plethora of rebounding defenders and likely want to cement the positions of younger players, though given they’re a contending team you could also understand if they had kept Hartlett around for one more season.
Kye Declase (Melbourne)
Kye Declase only received six months on Melbourne’s list after being picked up in the mid-season draft, though he trained with the club in the pre-season.
The versatile defender has excelled in the VFL for many years and given the COVID interrupted season, didn’t get much of a chance to show his potential in front of Demons officials.
It’s disappointing that the 24-year-old’s opportunity evaporated so quickly.
Michael Gibbons (Carlton)
Michael Gibbons was always on the fringe at Carlton, but seemed to consistently do enough to earn his keep.
He played 47 games in three years at the club and would have brought up the half century if not for a hamstring issue in 2021.
While he may not have been in Carlton’s best 18, Gibbons proved his worth as a medium forward and could have been used through the midfield if required.
The Blues ultimately decided they’d seen what Gibbons had to offer and wished to prioritise wingmen Lochie O’Brien and Matthew Cottrell.