The AFL is considering changing its free agency rules that would give clubs more leverage to sign players.
These changes could have a vast impact on clubs trying to lure Adelaide’s Rory Sloane.
The current rules allow a player to become a restricted free agent after eight seasons. This gives that player’s club the ability to match any offer by another club.
After 10 seasons a player becomes an unrestricted free agent, where they are free to sign anywhere.
But a player must come out of contract after eight years or more as a restricted free agent, then sign another contract that expires, before they reach unrestricted status.
Sloane comes out of contract this year as a 10-year free agent, but under current rulings is still a restricted free agent because he signed a three-year deal after his seventh season.
It was assumed that Sloane was set to become a restricted free agent, but these recent negotiations could send him straight to unrestricted status.
The AFL will release the list of restricted and unrestricted free agents before round one.
If Sloane returns to Victoria as an unrestricted free agent, the Crows would have no capacity to match a deal and would receive a late-teens compensation pick if they finish inside the top four again.
Adelaide is confident it can sign Sloane before round one, with recent reports suggesting he could sign a four-year deal worth $1 million per year.
No matter the result of Sloane’s situation, the AFLPA is keen to make all 10-year free agents unrestricted in the future to give players more freedom.
Cats chief executive Brian Cook said last year the market for Sloane was clearly around $1 million a year.
“He will be around the million mark. He’s 27, yeah, a million for three years,’’ Cook said.
“That’s his value in the market. There might be one or two clubs who will give him more because they’re desperate, but additionally have some cap left.’’