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“They’re in a bind”: Could Naughton’s deal blow salary cap and cost Dogs English?


Western Bulldogs great Adam Cooney believes his former club could find themselves in a bind after handing key forward Aaron Naughton a contract through until the end of the 2032 season.

Naughton’s new deal was announced at Wednesday’s Charles Sutton Medal night and it’s since been revealed that the 23-year-old knocked back several mammoth long-term deals from rival clubs.

Given there were other deals up to 10 years reportedly on the table, Cooney understands why the Bulldogs simply had to put forth something compelling for Naughton.

He’s just not sure if it will help the club going forward.

“Their hands were tied, they had to,” Cooney told SEN Sportsday.

“No doubt they would have loved to offer Aaron Naughton a six-year deal on really good money.

“But when there's a 10-year deal on the table elsewhere and multiple clubs willing to throw out millions and millions of dollars over eight, nine or 10 years, then what are the Western Bulldogs supposed to do in that situation?

“They have an obligation to sign Aaron Naughton because he is the focal point of that forward line for the next nine years.”

Some commentators like Kane Cornes questioned the deal due to a variety of factors that could see Naughton’s performance drop off, but Cooney is more concerned with how other Bulldogs will now attack contract talks.

Star duo Tim English and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan come out of contract at the end of next season, and with their potentials arguably higher than Naughton’s, Cooney is certain they’ll also be demanding huge deals that could blow the club’s salary cap.

“It’s going to hurt them and talking about the potential for disaster simply because the player could get injured, or the form drops away after four or five years, you can lose your love or passion for the game and then the deal can sour,” Cooney said.

“This also has ramifications for Tim English and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan for their contract situations in 12 months’ time.

“Jamarra Ugle-Hagan has become a more consistent forward than Aaron Naughton. Tim English is the All-Australian ruckman.

“If they're looking at Aaron Naughton and his output compared to theirs in season 2023 and they're both out of contract next year. What do you think they're going to be asking for? Eight years at similar money.

“What are the Western Bulldogs going to do then? This has the potential to blow their salary cap because these guys want to get paid. They're proven performers.

“Naughton, whilst he's getting paid on potential, we've seen it at times that the consistency of Ugle-Hagan and English has gone past Aaron Naughton this year.

“If I'm Ugle-Hagan’s manager, I'm saying, ‘If he's getting eight extra years, let's call it $900,000 a year, I want the same’.

“Then Tim English says, ‘Well, I can go back home to the West Coast Eagles and get an eight-year deal on a million bucks a year. Are you going to match that?’.”

Given that money could become tight if the Bulldogs prioritise Naughton and re-sign Ugle-Hagan, Cooney questioned whether Tim English, who is from Western Australia, could depart as a free agent in one year or even if the Bulldogs could look to trade him this off-season as a ‘pre-agent’.

“They're in a bind now the Western Bulldogs and I can understand why they would feel obligated to give that deal to Aaron Naughton,” Cooney said.

“But is it going to affect their salary cap going forward or does it put the squeeze on Tim English?

“Does it squeeze him out of the club in 12 months’ time as a free agent?

“Should they look to trade him now as a pre-agent, if they could get the maximum amount of value?

“If they're going to pay three players a million bucks on big money, then they're going to lose other players down the line in three or four-years’ time.

“It's going to hurt the Western Bulldogs. They've identified Naughton as the priority. Yep, I understand that. But could it be to the detriment now of Tim English?

“That’s unless he makes a really selfless decision along with Ugle-Hagan, to take four or five-year deals themselves on less money than what probably Naughton will be getting, and probably less money than they're worth on the open market.”

English has long been linked to West Coast, with the All-Australian ruckman potentially having the earning potential of seven figures a year.


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