Restricted North Melbourne free agent Ben McKay appears set to survey offers from both near and far, with reports that Port Adelaide has thrown its hat in the ring for the key defender's services.
McKay is currently in the final year of his deal at Arden Street and is yet to recommit to a future as a Kangaroo.
Having joined the Roos' chorus ahead of the 2016 season, the 25-year-old will meet the markers of restricted free agency by the end of his 2023 campaign.
As reported by Callum Twomey of AFL Media, McKay is said to be on the shopping list at Alberton, with Port Adelaide keen to add to their defensive stocks.
While McKay was of some interest to rival clubs during last year's trade period, it is not known whether the Power asked the question of the Gippsland Power product before he eventually opted to see out the final year of his contract in blue and white bars.
Speaking to AFL Media, North Melbourne head coach Alastair Clarkson stated that he hadn't held any conversations with McKay regarding the stopper's future, claiming it wasn't his department.
"That's Todd Viney's role, a little bit of the board, because it is a big decision for the club. All of the things around relativity of salary cap and all things that are really important decisions to make. Most of that is in Todd's wheelhouse, but it'll also be in consultation with the board and Brady Rawlings in list management," Clarkson told the league's media team earlier this week.
However, the master coach claimed it was his role to help sell McKay a vision that would keep him Arden Street.
"The biggest role I can play for Ben right now is giving the hope and optimism that this footy club is going to create the environment where he'll have the opportunity to help this club get on the journey back up the ladder," Clarkson added.
While a shift across state lines could appeal to McKay, a stroll across suburb boundaries to join a familiar face could well prove too tough to refuse.
As stated by fellow AFL Media scribe Damien Barrett on Footy Classified, Carlton recruiters are said to be keen to reunite Ben with his identical twin brother, Harry, at Princes Park.
"He's going to be given an offer that may just be impossible to refuse."
Damian Barrett reveals that St Kilda's new list manager Stephen Silvagni is set to make a big offer to out-of-contract Blues young gun Tom De Koning. #9FootyClassified | @Channel9 pic.twitter.com/ih3zpjRm7I
— Footy on Nine (@FootyonNine) March 15, 2023
"There could be another McKay down back (at Carlton)," Barrett began.
"That is also something Carlton is considering, if he (Ben), as North Melbourne are fearful of him doing, (ends up) leaving North Melbourne."
However, any plan by Carlton to add a second McKay to its spine is contingent on multiple factors, namely the future of Tom De Koning on Royal Parade.
"This is a contingency for Carlton as we speak because they want to retain De Koning as a starting point. But they're certainly open to Ben McKay coming there," Barrett added.
Out of contract at the cessation of the 2023 season, De Koning is reportedly set to be tabled by massive offers by Sydney and St Kilda, offers that Carlton is unlikely to be able to match dollar for dollar.
McKay will miss the start of North Melbourne's planned resurgence under Clarkson, with club reports stating bone stress in the foot will keep the defender sidelined during the early stages of the season.
McKay has played 52 games for North Melbourne, making his debut as Roo in Round 23 of the 2017 season.