A trio of high-profile AFL free agents have been tipped to already be gaining external interest as the 2023 season gets underway, with North Melbourne's Ben McKay among those on the radar of rival clubs.
McKay is said to be in the sights of both Port Adelaide and Carlton as he continues to weigh up his future at Arden Street.
The Power have identified their tall defensive stocks as an area of focus for their list management and recruiting, with the South Australian side missing out on luring Geelong swingman Esava Ratugolea during last year's trade window.
Carlton would also be keen on McKay's services and could potentially pair the Roos defender with his brother and Coleman Medal winner Harry at Princes Park.
The Roos, who should be competitive on the market given they'll likely have a more open pocket in their salary cap at season's end, have continued discussions with McKay across the pre-season, however, the Gippsland product is said to be in no rush to make a call on his future.
Speaking on Trade Talk, 7 News reporter Mitch Cleary named McKay as one of three free agents to watch this year, with Crows defender Tom Doedee and Bombers gun Darcy Parish also said to be gaining interest.
"Free agents are always a 'watch this space' this time of the year," Cleary said.
"Three already at the top of that list are North Melbourne's Ben McKay, who is getting plenty of interest as one of the key backs in the market, Adelaide's Tom Doedee and Essendon's Darcy Parish."
Discussions surrounding Doedee's future were ignited in the wake of Adelaide's decision to hand Jordan Dawson the reins as captain ahead of the 2023 season.
Often seen as a captain-in-waiting, the snub could play a part in Doedee's decision to consider his future at West Lakes.
.@cleary_mitch has the latest Trade Talk on...
- The clubs circling Tom De Koning
- Whether there's any movement on Kozzie Pickett's contract
- Three more free agents generating interest pic.twitter.com/tFjGgsXKdp
— 7AFL (@7AFL) March 17, 2023
The Victorian backman would likely be on the radar of clubs from his home state should he remain unsigned for next year late into this season.
Parish looms as Essendon's biggest retention target following the announcement of Peter Wright's new four-year deal on Friday.
The Bombers have a handful of key names still off-contract in 2022, but that list took a hit this week when the club confirmed Wright's future until 2027.
Parish is joined by hard-nosed defender Mason Redman and 2021 first-round draft pick Ben Hobbs in being among Essendon's list of players yet to sign on for 2024 and beyond.
The 2021 All-Australian last recommitted to the Bombers in 2021, inking a two-year deal midway through the season.