Only four players remain as restricted free agents as Aaron Davey announces his retirement, while Adam Cooney and Dale Morris have re-signed for the Bulldogs just this week.
A restricted free agent may sign with any other club, although the club in which they are currently listed will have the opportunity to match the offer in which the player has received.
The 26-year old small forward has been linked with a number of clubs, with the Adelaide Crows believed to be showing the most interest. Malthouse is confident Betts will re-sign, although talks between Betts’ management and the Blues have stalled since beginning some two months ago. Betts has had a disappointing season which has been interrupted by injury and suspension and has managed just 19 goals in his 14 games prior to Round 22. Betts has kicked above 40 goals in his previous three seasons, and will be a handy acquisition if he can re-capture his best form.
One of the most talked about names in this year’s free agency is Collingwood’s Dale Thomas, although his value may have decreased on the weekend after re-injuring his ankle in his return to the VFL. There has been speculation surrounding Thomas all year as the Pies have secured almost every other out-of-contract player, while Didak remains the only other remaining free agent. The All-Australian midfielder has been linked with Carlton to join former coach Mick Malthouse and CEO Greg Swann, who was at the Pies when Thomas was drafted. The Blues have significant room in the salary cap to pursue him as former captain Chris Judd has taken a substantial pay cut, and the potential move of Betts will also impact their decision.
If he wasn’t already the most talked about player in the AFL, he will be now. Buddy Franklin is still un-contracted for the 2014 season, although he has stated he wishes to remain at Hawthorn. But as we’ve seen in previous years, talk is cheap. Franklin has been linked with GWS, who could afford to offer him a price that Hawthorn could not match, rumoured to be around $1.5 million, and another potential $500,000 for an indigenous marketing role. For Buddy it comes down to a decision of loyalty or money. With Hawthorn as successful as they are currently it’s hard to see him leaving, although we have seen it before with Brownlow Medal favourite Gary Ablett at the Gold Coast Suns.
Nick Dal Santo
Dal Santo, 29, may look to move to a club with the premiership window still open as the Saints look to rebuild in coming seasons, despite his confessed love for the club. Dal Santo told The Age that trade talks have taken a toll on him and it has shown in his inconsistent form in 2013. As they begin this re-building phase, should they spend their money on a player at the tail end of his career or is he too influential in the development of the younger brigade of players to allow him to leave? Scott Watters has told the media he is a required part of St Kilda’s future, although he is yet to be re-signed. He could be valuable to a side that are looking to invest in a ready-made midfielder to bolster their premiership aspirations, although is yet to receive any reported interest.
Blake Gray is a second-year Bachelor of Journalism (Sport) student.
You can follow him on twitter: @blake_gray14