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The restricted free agent who could be lured away as Lions face “salary cap crunch”


Rival clubs are set to put sizeable offers in front of Brisbane restricted free agent Jarrod Berry according to Seven’s Mitch Cleary.

The push to lure Berry away from Brisbane comes as the Lions face a salary cap squeeze and also need to re-sign fellow free agent Hugh McCluggage.

While he’s heard that Berry is more likely to stay than go, Cleary thinks that the 26-year-old will take some squeezing in at Brisbane despite being currently in their top 25 per cent of paid players.

“He (Jarrod Berry) is going on my whiteboard because he’s one of the nine restricted free agents right now in the competition,” Cleary told the Tradies Podcast.

“It has probably snuck under the radar for a few people. Given he is restricted it means he’s in the top 25 paid players at the Brisbane Lions right now.

“They will face a salary cap crunch sooner rather than later because of the stars they’ll have to pay.

“Hugh McCluggage will be worth over $1 million on the open market, they’ve got stars on every line and Jarrod Berry being at his age of 26 this year is going to take some squeezing in.

“I’ve been told by multiple people that he’s a loyal guy and he’s more likely to stay.”

Cleary thinks that Berry could be a chance to leave not just for money, but to pursue an inside midfield role.

While some of his best performances across his 136-game career have come as a contested midfielder, Berry is yet to attend a centre bounce across the entire 2024 season thus far as the Lions have deployed him on a wing.

With the names Brisbane have to come back into the side as midfielders as well, Cleary can’t see that changing anytime soon for the Victorian.

“But he’s going on my whiteboard for a few factors,” Cleary said.

“One is he’s been used as an inside mid and he’s been used as an outside mid. A lot of people would argue that he’s better as an inside mid, but he wasn’t used at one centre bounce in the loss to Collingwood, he is being used on the fringes.

“Then you’ve got Will Ashcroft still to come back in from his ACL and his brother Levi who is in this year’s draft … he is going to be a top-five pick this year … he’s going to be a walk-in midfielder for that Lions side next year.

“You’ve still got Deven Robertson to come back in, they’ve got (Lachie) Neale, McCluggage, (Zac) Bailey, (Josh) Dunkley and Jaspa Fletcher on a wing.”

Cleary thinks that Berry walks into any AFL club’s best 23 and expects rivals to offer him a role at the stoppage for 2025 and beyond.

“Yes, he’s loyal and every chance to stay, but there will be clubs trying to prise him out of the Lions looking at their salary cap situation and offering him more than the Lions can offer. They’ll also be offering him a role as an inside mid because of the log jam they have,” Cleary said.

“I’d say he won a final for them a couple of years ago after he shut Clayton Oliver out of the game as an inside mid.

“There’s a reason he’s not playing at regular centre bounces … but I’d say he’s a good footballer. He’s easily in the top 15 or 20 players at every club in the comp.”

Berry picked up 20 disposals to go with five tackles, three clearances and seven contested possessions in last Thursday’s loss to Collingwood.

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