Essendon defender Michael Hartley has departed the club in search of more opportunities.

The Bombers offered Hartley a contract for 2020 but he turned them down and will now look to continue his career elsewhere as a delisted free agent or through the draft.

The 26-year old spent two years on Collingwood's rookie list before joining Essendon for the 2016 season where played 44 senior games.

Bombers General manager of football Dan Richardson thanked Hartley for his contributions to the club.

“We offered Michael a contract, but he indicated to us that he wanted to explore other opportunities,” Richardson told

“Michael is a highly respected person at the club and his attitude and commitment to the program have been commendable.

“On behalf of the club, I would like to thank Michael and wish him all the best with his future endeavours.”