Shan Moylan for Footy Inc.
Nat Fyfe may have taken the captaincy at Fremantle but he is still on the trade table. We have to believe it. If we can’t believe that then we are staring down the barrel of potentially a very boring free agency and trade period in 2017.
We can’t let this minor captaincy detail rob us of our freedom to speculate on possible mega deals such as a Fyfe move. Tortured supporter groups (Richmond spring to mind) in particular need this outlet. For Richmond fans October and November are generally the most hopeful time of the year. There is hope that a star will be discovered in the draft or that a big fish will be lured to the club via free agency or a trade.
And recent history shows that club captains and star players are not off limits. Ryan Griffen was both the club captain and a gun player when he left the Bulldogs for the Giants after the 2014 season. The Bulldogs gained Tom Boyd in this mega deal while giving up Griffen, pick #6 and a truckload of space in their salary cap.
So don’t lose hope. A Nat Fyfe mega deal is still possible and the freedom to speculate is still ours to cherish. And speculate we will.
So now with the mindset that Fyfe is almost definitely on the move, which team is best placed to snag the 25 year old Brownlow medallist? Could your club attract Fyfe with the potential for premiership success, large sums of money or both? Club by club we’ve explored these questions.
Unlikely. The Swans appear destined to remain at the top for some time yet so the lure of ultimate success is present. But surely the Swans couldn’t obtain Fyfe through free agency with the massive Buddy contract, numerous other stars on big dollars and the need to retain some young guns (namely Isaac Heeney and Callum Mills).
Are there any star Western Australian stars on the Swans list that Freo may be interested in? Buddy. That would be the greatest trade of all time. Two of the very best – straight swap. But unfortunately it will not happen. Buddy’s age (30 years old) compared to Fyfe (25) would be the big deterrent for Fremantle who are talking about a “4 year growth plan”. And why would Buddy be interested in helping a team through a rebuilding phase when he has a limited number of years left in his career and he is currently playing with a top four team? Not to mention the huge contract he is already on which must keep him pretty happy.
What if the Swans were to offer up some of their young guns (the likes of Heeney and Mills)? It fits in with Fremantle’s semi-rebuild and from Sydney’s perspective it could strengthen their team now before some of their aging stars like McVeigh (32), Buddy (30), Grundy (30), Keiran Jack (29), Tippett (29) and Josh Kennedy (28) are finished. But the Swans have so many good young players that it seems unlikely that they would mess with the future for possible short term gain.
You would never rule them out. Somehow Hawthorn always seems to swoop in on the big deals. Jaeger O’Meara was the biggest asset to move in the 2016 trade period and Hawthorn landed him. Coincidently O’Meara is from Western Australia – would Hawthorn be so bold as to lure O’Meara to the club for one year then include him in a trade for Fyfe?
Fyfe would only get to Hawthorn via a trade. The Hawks have way too many stars on their list for them to have the cap space to outbid Fremantle and get him via free agency. Without messing even further with a winning formula – after releasing Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis for very little in return so as to make salary cap space for O’Meara and Tom Mitchell – it appears difficult for the Hawks to be involved in a Fyfe trade.
Matthew Pavlich, the greatest of all Dockers to this point in the clubs existence, has just finished his stellar career. Pav is a South Australian and you almost feel like Fremantle owe Adelaide one back the other way. I think Adelaide would accept Nat Fyfe as a square up.
Most would expect Adelaide to finish top eight again in 2017 so they probably won’t have early draft picks to put into a trade deal. But why should the Crows go down the trade path anyway when they have free agency as an option. Surely following Patty Dangerfield’s departure after the 2015 season they were left with a lot of space in the salary cap. And Adelaide were undoubtedly strong-armed by Geelong when Dangerfield was a free agent and they were forced into a woeful trade – they received pick 9 and some other bits and pieces for one of the games very best players.
The Crows should get angry and squeeze Fremantle into a deal that makes up for the Dangerfield loss. Either that or offer more cash.
Side note: Nat Fyfe is probably on his way to being in the conversation for the greatest Docker of all time with a Brownlow, two All-Australians and two club B&F’s. But Pavlich was a star for the club for 17 seasons. How is this for a career? 353 games, 700 goals, six All-Australians and six club B&F’s.
Photo by: Michael Spencer (License)
The Bulldogs would be an attractive destination to most players right now (if the player thinks they can break into the clubs best 22). And imagine what a star like Fyfe could do for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have a great young list with a few big names but overall a pretty even spread. Fyfe could be the piece of the puzzle that elevates the Bulldogs to become a dynasty.
Fremantle would demand that a very good player be part of a trade deal for Fyfe. The Dogs are no doubt determined to keep their young group together but would they entertain putting someone like Jake Stringer out as trade bait?
Or is free agency an option? Fyfe will demand a big contract while at the same time the Dogs young stars will start to expect more for their services. Could the Dogs instil the same pay culture as the Cats through their premiership years where everyone takes a hair-cut from their market value to keep the strong list together? The Tom Boyd deal would indicate that they are not following that same structure.
Fyfe seems like a great fit for the Bulldogs given they are right in the premiership window and his powerful work in the midfield and ability to go forward could really lift this team up a level. I’m not sure how it gets done but it would be very exciting for the Bulldogs if they could snare Fyfe without giving too much away.
The Saints are a work in progress but they are definitely heading in the right direction. The payoff may not be too far down the road for Fyfe if he was to move to St Kilda with that clubs young list set to ripen over the next two or three years.
It’s difficult to see any obvious players for a trade and the Saints probably won’t have really early draft picks to excite Fremantle. But there must be cap room to offer Fyfe a big deal and potentially out bid Fremantle for his services and so the threat of Freo losing their star for only a free agency compensation draft pick would have the Saints in a strong position at the trade table.
The medium term outlook seems a lot brighter for the Saints than the Dockers right now and adding Fyfe brings the Saints closer to being serious contenders. Get the deal done.
A straight one-for-one swap. A 22 year old power forward with enormous potential in exchange for the proven 25 year old star midfielder. Jesse Hogan is from the West and has openly discussed his struggles with the temptation to move home. He did sign a contract extension through to the end of 2019 but we see contracts broken all the time. If Fyfe was to decide to move on from Fremantle, a trade for Hogan could be a very good result for the Dockers considering other potential outcomes, namely a free agency compensation draft pick.
Who wins in a Hogan-Fyfe trade?
There are so many unknowns. How good can Jesse Hogan become? We’ve seen glimpses of brilliance including several bags of 5+ goals and the day he towelled up All-Australian full-back Alex Rance on the MCG (round 5 2016). Fremantle would be adding to their forward stocks – Cam McCarthy and Hogan could be the start of a great forward set up – but they would be left with a lot of work to do with a midfield that would have been turned on its head.
Fyfe is an elite player and any team would love to have him at his best. But is his leg 100% or has he lost some of the power he once had after playing only five serious matches in 18 months. On the flip-side, he could come back as good as ever and be a midfield force for Melbourne. But who would they kick to in the forward line?
I think most Demon supporters would prefer to hold onto their young star. Key forwards are so valuable and they are building a very good midfield anyway. The best result for Melbourne would be to keep Hogan and pick up Fyfe via free agency.
Another possible one-for-one trade to send a West Australian home – three time All-Australian full-back Alex Rance who is 27 years old. Combine Rance with fellow key defender, former Bulldogs premiership player Joel Hamling, and a promising key forward, Cam McCarthy, and all of a sudden the Dockers spine is looking much stronger.
Although admittedly, unlike the Jesse Hogan carrot, Freo would probably expect more from Richmond than just Rance mainly given he is a couple of years older than Fyfe. The Tigers do have other Western Australians to potentially sweeten the deal including Reece Conca and Shai Bolton (Richmond’s first pick in the 2016 draft – 29th overall).
What would it mean for Richmond? Their midfield would undoubtedly be formidable if Fyfe were to be added into the mix with Dustin Martin, Trent Cotchin and several other solid on-ballers. However if it meant giving up the guy who holds everything together in the back half it feels like it would create more problems for the Tiges. Would Fyfe see Tigerland as a great opportunity for premiership success? Probably not. Besides, Rance seems pretty settled in Melbourne now with a vice captain role at the club and a regular gig on the Footy Show.
No doubt though if there are any rumours of a Fyfe move, Richmond will be named as one of the interested clubs, the supporters will be filled with hope and ultimately they will miss out on luring the big name yet again.
If it were basketball, teaming Nat Fyfe up with Gary Ablett would be a game-changer in a similar manner to the Le Bron, Wade and Bosh super team in Miami or the current Golden State Warriors’ team including Curry, Durant and Thompson. But the beauty of Australian football is that two or three stars alone cannot get the job done. Think of the Lions of the early 2000’s and more recently the Cats and the Hawks – they had their share of stars but even more important was their depth and having good players across every line on the field.
Other than for money and sunshine I can’t see why Fyfe would want to go to the Gold Coast. Unfortunately this expansion team have not progressed nearly as well as GWS and it doesn’t seem likely to turn around in the short term. No deal gets done here.
A nicer climate than the southern states probably won’t be enough to make Fyfe happy.
Brisbane could throw early draft picks at a trade for Fyfe but don’t have a lot in the way of players to sweeten the deal. Early picks may be enough to get a Fyfe deal done, especially if the threat of losing him to free agency becomes a serious concern for Fremantle. We’ve seen in the past that free agency compensation is not great compensation when a club loses a big star – Hawthorn only receiving pick 19 when they lost Buddy Franklin is a good example of that.
But ultimately Fyfe would want to go to a club competing for the big prize and Brisbane is not that club. He is 25 years old and is not interested in helping a club rebuild. He wants a flag – that would make him happy.
We’ve covered half the competition in this article. Part 2 will explore the Nat Fyfe hopes for Geelong, GWS, West Coast, North Melbourne, Port Adelaide, Collingwood, Carlton, Fremantle and Essendon.