ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 07: James Harmes of the Demons celebrates a goal with Kysaiah Pickett during the 2022 AFL Round 04 match between the Port Adelaide Power and the Melbourne Demons at Adelaide Oval on April 07, 2022 In Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Port Adelaide plan to regenerate their tall defensive depths this year as they look to the open market for experienced talent, with North Melbourne free agent Ben McKay already linked to the South Australian club.

McKay is one of seven restricted free agents in 2023, with the Kangaroos set to compete with multiple rival clubs in the race for the key defender's signature.

While satisfied with life at Arden Street, McKay is expected to be on the end of offers from clubs both near and far, with the Power already linked to the Roos gun.

Port Adelaide moved for Geelong tall Esava Ratugolea at the end of last year in a pursuit to add to their tall backline options, however the fringe Cat would stay put at Kardinia Park given his contract status for 2023.

Ratugolea's deal will come to an end this year, with Port Adelaide to potentially come calling again as they look to bolster their rearguard with mature, tall targets.

"It's an area of our list that we need to keep looking at," Port Adelaide football boss Chris Davies said of the club's key defender stocks when speaking to's Gettable. 

"Our key defenders in our AFL team at the moment are more towards the end of their career, if you think about our captain Tom Jonas or Trent McKenzie, (they're) two guys who are holding down pretty important roles for us and at the moment they're both 30+ (years of age).

"We do need to regenerate. We do have some guys who we've drafted who we think have got potential in Tom McCallum and Kyle Marshall and Jake Pasini, who is yet to play at AFL level.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 13: Ben McKay of the Kangaroos leads thje team off at half time during the round 22 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Adelaide Oval on August 13, 2022 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

"We're probably missing that mid-20s-aged player who could come in and play regularly. It's an area we'll keep our eye on definitely."

A move for McKay looms as a likely one for the Power, with Davies stating "you can't have too many" good key defenders on your list.

With McKay's situation at North Melbourne an intriguing one, Davies and his team will continue to monitor the 25-year-old throughout the year.

"We're looking at players across the board," Davies said.

"Ben's obviously in a situation from a contract perspective where there'll be some interest in him. Suffice to say we're interested in the key defender market. You can't have too many good ones of them.

"We'll be interested."

Another high-profile name off-contract this year is Melbourne livewire Kysaiah Pickett, who has been linked to all four clubs from South Australia and Western Australia.

Potentially following in the footsteps of his uncle Byron - a premiership player with the Power - Pickett may consider a switch to Alberton should he plan to depart the Demons.

"Kozzie is another one who there'll obviously be interest in from a contract perspective again," Davies said.

Kysaiah Pickett during Melbourne's open training session at Gosch's Paddock, Melbourne in 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes/Zero Digital Sports)

"He's spent a fair bit of time in South Australia and has links to our club. I understand why we're linked with Kozzie regularly.

"We go into all of these periods wanting to improve our list overall. You've got to remain open to every possibility. It'll be interesting to see how Kozzie's situation at Melbourne pans out through the year."

Meanwhile, Adelaide are set to target local South Australian talent once again this year as they look to further refine their list and push for a return to premiership contention.

The recent acquisitions of Jordan Dawson and Izak Rankine from Sydney and Gold Coast respectively have seen the Crows start their 2023 campaign strongly, potentially returning to the top eight this year for the first time since their 2017 grand final-finish.

The Crows have missed out on any pursuit of Hawthorn gun and West Adelaide product Will Day after the in-form Hawk re-signed at Waverley until 2027 last week.

Adelaide may look towards the likes of off-contract South Australians in Bomber Mason Redman, Swan Dylan Stephens, Magpie Ashley Johnson or Saint Tom Highmore as options to lure back home.

"It's no secret that we track all South Australian talent once they're drafted and when they're kids in our own backyard," Adelaide chief executive Tim Silvers confirmed to

Mason Redman during the AFL match between Essendon and Adelaide, Round 4, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media

"It's been a focus of ours and we've been able to secure our tw big targets over the last two years."

Like the aforementioned McKay, Redman is a restricted free agent in 2023, meaning Essendon are able to match a rival's bid for their hard-nosed defender.