A decade ago, the AFL followed the lead of the American sporting codes by introducing a free agency program.
The policy has led to the biggest shift in the employee/employer relations since the induction of the eight-hour working day and the biggest in the code since the short-lived ten-year rule of the Seventies.
The past shackles of clearances, poor salaries and a powerless playing class were cast off, with million dollar deals over multiple years becoming the new norm.
No sooner had this new age been established did the term ‘pre-agency’ become a side-effect and a part of the footballing vernacular.
The tag of pre-agent relates to those that are still on contract with their current clubs, but come the agreements conclusion, they will have served a tenure long enough to be granted either restricted or unrestricted free agency status.
Recently, clubs have begun shopping these players prior to their contracts completion in an effort to avoid leaving future negotiations empty handed. Players have also been known to openly flirt with other teams as a means of securing an extension from their current cheque cutters.
With the conclusion of the 2020 season imminent and the trade period around the following corner, we’ve compiled a list of the players that will enter free agency this time next year.
Below are all 18 club's most interesting 'pre-agent', with some added speculation about what their futures may hold.
Daniel Rich and Dayne Zorko
With the juxtaposed results of a Preliminary final loss and Lachie Neale’s Brownlow victory both under a week old, it would be fair to suggest that most of the Lions’ employees would currently blow over on a breath test.
With their youth-based team falling just shy of securing a home Grand Final berth, there are unlikely to be many, if any, players seeking to depart the pride, let alone two of their star veterans.
Although the aforementioned duo are set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of 2021, you’re more likely to see Hayley’s comet twice in a night than you are to see these two in opposition colours.
After a combined 23 years of service at the Gabba and having navigated the rough seas of the past, you can expect these two veterans to be keen on finishing their careers in Queensland with a premiership medal or two.
Congrats @daniel_rich10 on your 200th milestone! 😂 @DayneZorko pic.twitter.com/2C1qnRzvVx
— Bobby Robinson (@MitchRobinson05) July 19, 2019