The 2023 AFL season has well and truly ticked into the business end of proceedings, and with that, the on-field activity becomes increasingly captivating.
Discussion and debate about the state of umpiring, dangerous tackles and the MRO, 'wildcard' finals formats – and everything else of the like – has dominated the league's agenda to this point in the year.
However, as we edge excitedly closer to the flag-deciding matchups of this year, we also creep closer to the off-season; signalling free agency and trades!
As is the case every season, an array of appealing talent is potentially up for grabs.
In this three-part series, we're not necessarily analysing each club's biggest or most popular off-contract names. Rather, we've examined every squad's most intriguing crop of players whose contract situations provoke curiosity.
So, without further ado, let's explore the final six teams and their interesting off-contract assets.
1. Port Adelaide
However, with a bevy of senior players still without new contracts, the Power's higher-ups shift their attention to those other pertinent situations that require resolution.
Jonas, the Power's skipper, fell out of favour with Port Adelaide's match committee this season, watching from the sidelines as the Power executed a club-record-breaking winning streak to elevate the team to premiership contention.
It's difficult not to sympathise with the 32-year-old, who has simply been supplanted by players preferred in the eyes of coach Ken Hinkley and his selection committee.
Ahead of Round 20's Showdown defeat to the Adelaide Crows, Hinkley named key defenders Aliir Aliir and Trent McKenzie along with medium-sized backmen Ryan Burton, Dan Houston, and Lachie Jones, who, while not key-position players, possess the capability to play tall when required. The combination has been largely successful for Hinkley and Co. this season.
In addition to age, the nimble profiles of Aliir and McKenzie reduce the veteran's appeal to selectors.
However, with both Aliir and Jones each missing time due to concussions and McKenzie's injury blow leaving him sidelined for the medium term, the Norwood product has been afforded a chance to re-solidify his spot in Hinkley's side ahead of a critical finals campaign at Alberton.
Jonas, having partaken in 13 AFL seasons, represents a quality selection option in terms of league experience, particularly approaching an all-important post-season series.
Going beyond how this year pans out, though, and Jonas' footballing future in Alberton remains cloudy.
The key defender holds an unrestricted free agent status in 2023, meaning he's able to depart Port Adelaide for a destination of his choosing, provided he's still a wanted AFL commodity. Otherwise, if not a short-term extension, retirement could be on the cards for the storied veteran.
Boak's 2024 prospects are also in question, though not exactly for the same reasons as veteran teammate Jonas.
Despite his elder status among a youthful and energetic Power outfit, the Victorian midfielder is still a preferred choice in Port's engine room, having played 80 per cent of Port Adelaide's 2023 outings. He missed the chance at an 18th season appearance – the club's victory over GWS at the weekend – due to illness.
However, does he have enough juice left to play a substantial role again next season? It's not exactly as if his presence is a desperate requirement among Port's burgeoning on-ball brigade, with electric youngsters Connor Rozee, Zak Butters, and Jason Horne-Francis, as well as Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines, all playing significant roles under midfield coach Josh Carr.
The Power will likely leave the decision to Boak, who holds an unrestricted free agent status at the cessation of this season.
Mitchell Georgiades, Orazio Fantasia & Charlie Dixon
Key-position forwards Georgiades and Dixon, as well as general forward Fantasia, all remain unsigned past the end of this season, with clouds hanging over the futures of each.
Georgiades, a Subiaco product, has held off signing a new contract at Alberton amid understandable reported intrigue from Western Australia. The 21-year-old is a non-free agent this year; however, he could opt to force his way out, as West Coast and a host of Victorian clubs are set to come calling at trade time.
Dixon, meanwhile, will be turning a seasoned 33 years old at season's end, prompting discussion about how long his AFL career has left to run.
Then there's Fantasia, who is probably the biggest enigma in this discussion.
Since returning home to South Australia at the end of the 2020 season, the ex-Bomber has played a measly 19 games across three seasons at Alberton.
Fantasia's durability is a concern that isn't going away, and he's already 27 years old.
Combined with the fact that Port's small-forward structure under Ken Hinkley appears rock solid, there appears genuine doubt over Fantasia's future at the Power. The forward's last senior appearance came in Round 3's Showdown.
A report that tied the livewire goalkicker to a return to Essendon at the end of the season – while refuted by Fantasia himself – is understandable, considering his struggles keeping a spot in Port Adelaide's best side.
Albeit, while Fantasia's 'greener pastures' thought process hasn't eventuated at Port Adelaide for multiple reasons, there's a possibility a short-term extension is the eventual outcome here.
The Power's three recognised ruckmen, Lycett, Teakle, and Hayes, all currently find themselves out of contract beyond this year, while three-gamer Dante Visentini is contracted for a further two seasons.
Which one, or how many, will be re-signed by Port Adelaide? A likely result is at least one of them remains at the club beyond this season.
Of the three, Lycett is the only one who hails from South Australia, having originated from the SANFL's Port Magpies. The veteran has also been afforded the most senior opportunity amongst this electrifying Power outfit; seemingly first-in-line for a new deal.
The Victorian Hayes, meanwhile, may find himself as 'trade bait' and could be tempted by a move home if he feels senior opportunities will continue to evade him.
Then there's Teakle. While this trio's collective future at Port Adelaide is uncertain, it seems as if he could be the man with the longest viable Alberton future, possessing the youth that Lycett doesn't, and the athleticism that Hayes lacks. Further, having snatched him up at last year's Mid-Season Draft, the Power's list committee is likely thinking long-term with the East Fremantle product.
When comparing the triplet in terms of their rucking impact, it's neck-and-neck-and-neck. Technically, Lycett leads all-comers, averaging 24.6 hitouts per game; 7.3 of which are to the advantage of a teammate.
Teakle is next in line, notching an average of 20.8 hitouts and 7.0 to advantage, with Hayes' 18.0 hitouts and 6.0 to advantage rating third out of the trio. There isn't much that separates them, making a choice between the three all the more difficult.
Again, more than one could receive a new contract; however, would that be the wisest use of valuable list spots?
Regarding Port Adelaide's current group of unsigned players in general, a query that must be pondered is whether specific players have held off on signing on the dotted line until Hinkley's future is confirmed.
While the acquisition of Bergman's signature represents a sizeable step in the right direction retention-wise, the circumstances surrounding Hinkley, who has not only stabilised but rejuvenated Port Adelaide in 2023, arguably hold a decent amount of influence in the minds of those off-contract Power players still undecided on their footballing futures.