Hawthorn are showing their cards ahead of the 2024 trade and free agency period, tasking a returned premiership hero with the job of attracting opposition stars to the brown & gold.

Jarryd Roughead, Hawthorn's four-time premiership player, Coleman Medal winner and two-time All-Australian, returned to the club in January after a four-year coaching stint at rival club St Kilda.

He caught the competition by surprise by announcing an intention to depart the Saints in the pre-season, with some speculating a type of coup is taking place with his move back to Hawthorn.

The former captain and three-time leading goalkicker is a highly regarded figure in the Hawthorn camp and AFL competition entirely, fondly remembered for his courage in returning to football after recurring bouts of cancer through 2015 and 2016.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 28: Jarryd Roughead of the Hawks celebrates with the Premiership Cup after the Hawks won the 2013 AFL Grand Final match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Fremantle Dockers at Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 28, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

As a fan-favourite and admired character throughout the league, the Hawks are now employing the former champ to lure "A-grade" stars to bolster their rebuilding list, according to News Corp. 

Hawthorn are yet to secure a high-profile free agent with a major contract since the Jaeger O'Meara acquisition from Gold Coast in 2016, an unsuccessful move in hindsight.

They targeted Esava Ratugolea, Ben McKay and Bailey Smith last off-season with hefty offers, but failed to land any of the in-demand trio.

2024 shapes to provide a far more fruitful crop of off-contract stars, with Errol Gulden, Hugh McCluggage, Liam Baker, Cameron Zurhaar, Tim English and Bailey Smith all yet to sign on with their current clubs.

We can expect the Hawks to go after Smith again, the injured star yet to print his signature on the Bulldogs' reported fresh two-year offer.

The Hawks may also chase power forward Zurhaar to play second fiddle to frontman Mitch Lewis, given Jamarra Ugle-Hagan's reported intention to stay at the Kennel.

208cm All-Australian ruckman Tim English is unlikely to be on their radar, with the 26-year-old Bulldog appearing more likely to return home to Western Australia if a move were to be made.

News Corp reports there may be an incentive-based clause in Roughead's role if he's able to land a big fish, and securing any of these names would assuredly suffice.

Hawthorn's Easter Monday clash with Geelong looms, and the likelihood of falling 0-3 spotlights the club's bottom four potential, allowing them to bolster their list further with a high-profile draft selection.