Jamie Elliott’s asking price will soar with a big 2019. Pic: Getty Images
Jamie Elliott’s asking price will soar with a big 2019. Pic: Getty Images

Stakes are high for free agent Pie

AFL list managers would be marched out of their clubs if they adopted the mantra of taking it one week at a time.

Their mandate is to imagine the possibilities.

Right now Jamie Elliott is a freakishly talented but injury-prone forward who has played just 17 games in the past three seasons.

By the end of the year he could be a 40-goal-a-year forward available to 17 rival clubs without handing over a draft pick.

As former Hawks recruiter and AFL analyst Gary Buckenara told the Herald Sun this week, those clubs would be watching and waiting with Elliott as one of the few attractive free agency prospects in a very thin market.

 

Jamie Elliott is back playing footy. Pic: Getty Images
Jamie Elliott is back playing footy. Pic: Getty Images

 

To woo him now would be insanity given his 2019 body of work consists of a strong pre-season, a scratch match against Melbourne and a JLT hitout against Fremantle.

But Buckenara says Elliott can develop significant leverage if he can get through the season unscathed.

He believes clubs would be prepared to offer a contract in the $550,000-$700,000 range for Elliott by year's end if he can rediscover his durability and goal power.

Buckenara says the new 6-6-6 rules could also advantage mid-sized marking players like Elliott, in recent times having to compete with massive congestion and being outnumbered by multiple players.

You think that type of cash is out of this world?

Consider the example of West Coast premiership ruckman Scott Lycett, who played a single game in 2017 and 28 in three years before his 25-game flag year.

He is currently in the first year of a five-season $3 million deal at Port Adelaide that says everything about what clubs desperate to improve their lists will pay to secure free agents in a seller's market.

 

With a strong season, rival clubs will be all over Elliott this year. Pic: Getty Images
With a strong season, rival clubs will be all over Elliott this year. Pic: Getty Images

 

Elliott has never shown any inclination to leave the Pies but a season which secures significant rival offers at least gives him leverage and a reference point in contract talks.

He might need that leverage too, given by the end of 2020 the Pies will have to find significant cash to satisfy All Australian Brodie Grundy and future All Australian Jordan De Goey.

Nathan Buckley's only priority is deciding where his small forwards - including De Goey, Jaidyn Stephenson, and Josh Thomas - will play in Round 1 but the coach is thrilled with Elliott's recent progress.

"He has had a really strong pre-season and taken gradual steps into match play and played some good minutes against Melbourne and (Fremantle)," Buckley said.

"That's a really positive sign for him. There are still stages for him to travel but the more work he gets, the more robust he is and the more robust he is the more footy he will play."

Everyone wants a mid-sized 35-plus goal forward in football, especially if you can get one as a free agent.

 

 

Carlton, which takes on Collingwood in Morwell on Monday afternoon, is screaming out for a small forward of his prowess.

They just secured ex-Pie Alex Fasolo, but are having to turn players like Ed Curnow, David Cuningham and Michael Gibbons into pressuring half forwards.

Imagine the Blues running around with a fit Elliott at the feet of Charlie Curnow, Mitch McGovern and Harry McKay.

Or Hawthorn, already needing to replace Cyril Rioli and with Paul Puopolo turning 32 in December.

Or cashed-up North Melbourne, still trying to get the best out of their own injury-plagued medium forwards Mason Wood and Taylor Garner.

Football just wants to see the high-leaping highlights machine Elliott back up and running in concert with the spectacular Jeremy Howe again.

But every player wants to fire in a contract year, and when you hit that point as a free agent, all of a sudden the stakes are raised even higher.

News Corp Australia


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