Rivals clubs are said to be "waiting by the phone" as a Geelong young gun weighs up his future, while a target of the Cats is seen as an all but certain chance of finding a new home for 2025.

Unsigned speedster Max Holmes is arguably Geelong's top retention target, with the former first-round pick expected to gain high levels of interest should his future remain uncertain in the late stages of the season.

Holmes, who is one of 12 premiership players at Geelong without a deal beyond this year, previously spoken on his future, stating he's hoping a deal can be agreed upon with the club.

"It's up to ‘Mack' (Geelong football boss Andrew Mackie) and my manager to sort it out," Holmes said last month.

"Then, when they're happy with it, I'll be happy with it, I guess.

"I don't really know much about what's going on; I just let my manager take the reins and I stick to playing footy, and I'm happy with that."

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 14: Zach Tuohy and Max Holmes of the Cats celebrate a goal during the round five AFL match between Geelong Cats and North Melbourne Kangaroos at GMHBA Stadium, on April 14, 2024, in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Any agreement between Holmes and the Cats is expected to come in the latter half of the year, with "a lot of Victorian teams waiting by the phone" with an eagerness to potentially make a move for the midfielder-turned-defender.

"This one should play out later in the year," 7 News reporter Mitch Cleary told SEN. 

"I've still got the Cats in front, but there's a lot of Victorian teams waiting by the phone on this one to see if he does pop his head up.

"I'd say more likely to stay at the Cats for now."

The Cats are expected to be among the busier clubs come the 2024 off-season, with the Kardinia Park club having been linked to off-contract Western Bulldogs youngster Bailey Smith for the second time in as many years.

Smith, who is currently sidelined with an ACL injury, is now expected to depart the Kennel at the end of the season as Geelong, Hawthorn and Collingwood express an interest.

According to Cleary, there's no clear frontrunner for the midfielder's services.

"I think it's more likely he leaves now, I think a lot of people have got their head around that," Cleary said of Smith.

Bailey Smith during the 2022 AFL Round 1 match between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

"There's three in the race. Geelong, Hawthorn and Collingwood. We'll see how that one unfolds, but I don't have a clear frontrunner yet."

The Cats didn't exchange any of their 2024 draft selections during last year's trade period, meaning they hold one pick in each round for this year's count.


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