2022 was shaping up to be a season to remember for Bombers fans as Essendon finally seemed poised to take the league by storm with their exciting young nucleus.
Yet, this has been for from the reality through the first seven rounds as the Dons currently sit 16th with an abysmal 1-6 record.
Prior to Essendon's engagement with the Western Bulldogs on Sunday, Ben Rutten seemed to make a statement at the selection table as he relegated multi-million dollar onballer Dylan Shiel to the reserves.
Despite the message Rutten attempted to send to the rest of the playing group, Shiel ended up as the medical sub during the 32-point loss and even suited up in the second half after Nik Cox was subbed out.
The move was baffling as it subliminally communicated that talent would be rewarded over effort despite the team's uninspired start to the season.
FREE AGENCY: FIVE POTENTIAL LANDING SPOTS FOR DANIEL McSTAY
Furthermore, the impending friction between Shiel and Essendon has a "prominent club" keenly monitoring the developing situation, according to reporter Tom Browne.
“Will other clubs look at Shiel? Well they will if Essendon want to trade him at the end of the year,” Browne told Triple M.
“It’s too early to discuss that at the moment. But I know that at least one prominent club I’ve spoken to that Shiel at least offensively is a good player. So if the Bombers wanted to pay some of his salary at the end of the year and give him up for a second-round pick, I’m sure there are clubs that would potentially be interested.
“It’s too early to discuss that at the moment, but I can report at least one prominent club is keeping a close eye on the Dylan Shiel situation. As we know, at his best he is a particularly good player.”
Since making the move to Windy Hill in 2019, the ex-Giant has failed to live up to his billing as a genuine number one midfielder, given that he's been usurped by teammates Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett in this time.
Depending on the severity of damage done between Shiel and Essendon, there's no reason why multiple clubs wouldn't be lining up to pinch an experienced midfielder on the cheap come seasons end.