Fringe Carlton midfielder Paddy Dow has been urged to assess his options this off-season by former captain Marc Murphy, with the former first-round draft selection unable to cement this place in Michael Voss' side this season.
Dow played just the four AFL matches in 2022, two of which came in the final second half of the season, with his year bookended by two stints as an unused medical in Rounds 5 and 22.
A 21-disposal, 5-tackle and 5-clearance effort against Collingwood in Round 11 wasn't enough to retain his place in the senior side, having been left to ply his trade in the VFL for a majority of his fifth season in navy blue.
Dow has gained reported interest from rival clubs despite his contract not ending until the conclusion of next year, with the likes of Richmond and Geelong linked to the 22-year-old.
The arrivals of George Hewett and Adam Cerra, coupled with Matt Kennedy's career-best campaign, have left Dow on the outer of selection in 2022.
Dow joined the Blues as the third overall selection in the 2017 National Draft, a selection that came two picks ahead of Cerra and only one spot before North Melbourne star Luke Davies-Uniacke.
After 63 games in five seasons, Dow has now been urged to consider departing Ikon Park ahead of next year, with his former skipper in Murphy backing a move.
“I was just surprised he didn’t get much of a look in at Carlton (this year)," Murphy told ABC Radio.
“I feel he adds something a bit to them in terms of his leg speed and burst.
“He’s always had a bit of a knock on his disposal but I’m just more thinking for him he needs to explore another opportunity and try and resurrect an AFL career, which has kind of just stalled at the moment.
“He’s dominated VFL this year.”
Dow could consider a switch to Punt Road to link up with his brother, Thomson, while a move to Geelong would see the midfielder return to the area where he attended high school.
The Swan Hill product has averaged 28.4 disposals, 7.8 clearances, 3.2 tackles, 4.5 inside 50s and 0.9 goals per game for Carlton's reserves this year, helping lead the side to a semi-final against Brisbane this weekend.
Dow was again among the Blues' best on Sunday as they defeated Collingwood by 32 points at Victoria Park, combining with fellow fringe onballer Will Setterfield, whose own future is unclear given his expiring contract, in the engine room.
The duo could be seen as cheap targets for rival clubs looking to find the next Will Brodie or Patrick Lipinski, who have flourished since finding new clubs and taking on more senior duties.
While Carlton's senior side saw their year end in heartbreak, Dow, Setterfield and the remainder of the Blues' VFL squad are hopeful of success in September.
The Blues will travel to Queensland to face the Lions, with details for the second week of the VFL finals fixture yet to be confirmed.