2023 trade talk (Part 2)

Moneyball: All the latest player movement, contract and free agency news

The latest on the Bombers attempt at a double free agency strike, North’s options if Todd Goldstein departs, how a Crow can unite with his brother and more trade news here.

Jon Ralph, Jay Clark and Glenn McFarlane

5 min read

September 20, 2023 - 6:00AM

News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom

AFL: Kangaroos defender Ben McKay is rumoured to have been offered a 7-year deal by a potential suitor.

St Kilda will be prepared to match a free agency bid from Essendon on Jade Gresham depending on how much the Bombers are prepared to pay him and the compensation pick it triggers.

The Bombers are circling Gresham as well as North Melbourne stopper Ben McKay as part of a double free agency strike to help lift Essendon for next season.

The Saints are keeping their options open on Gresham to see whether a move to Essendon could deliver the Saints a second-round compensation pick.

Out-of-contract defender Nick Coffield, who finished fifth in the 2020 best and fairest but has not played a senior game over the past two seasons, has also attracted interest from Western Bulldogs.

If Coffield remains at St Kilda it would be on a considerable pay cut given his nightmare run of injuries in recent years.

Jade Gresham (pictured) and Nick Coffield could be on the move. Picture: Getty Images

Saints’ list manager Stephen Silvagni is keen to recalibrate the club’s salary cap following a series of big-money moves to attract mid-tier players and retain some high draft picks.

Gresham, 26, is one of the highest paid players at the Saints but was used in a mainly forward role this season, kicking 21 goals from 23 games.

While McKay is yet to make a decision on his future, the Saints are prepared to wait on Gresham’s future until the free agency window opens on Friday October 6.

The Bombers have about $2 million in salary cap room to spend on talent if they wish including a new key defender to bolster the defence and a ready-made livewire midfield-forward to hit the scoreboard.

Essendon coach Brad Scott is keen to explore the free agency market to add more talent at the Bombers without sacrificing their top draft pick (eight).

The Saints wanted to bank more early draft picks this year, but crashed through to the finals in the first year under Ross Lyon, meaning their first pick is further back than many expected at No. 12.

But that could fall past pick 15 due to the three stand-out academy players Gold Coast will take in the first round, shuffling clubs back in the draft order.

It means the Saints could be open to a Gresham move if it can land the club another top-25 draft choice.

The club is keen to add more top-end young talent to add to the wave of a-grade youngsters including Mattaes Phillipou, Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera, Mitch Owens and Marcus Windhager.

The Roos might find themselves needing to find a replacement for Todd Goldstein in 2024. Picture: Getty Images


North Melbourne is on the hunt for a ready-made ruckman in the trade period, fearing it is likely to lose 300-game big man Todd Goldstein.

Goldstein, 35 is weighing up a number of options, including an offer to join his former coach Brad Scott at Essendon.

The prospect of any two-year offer would be tempting for Goldstein as the veteran ruckman believes he still has good footy left in him following another consistent season.

The AFL need to stamp down on this. There is no way a club that has not offered a player a contract should have the ability to match another clubs offer for compensation purposes.

If clubs haven’t offered a contract to listed players by a specific date this should forgo compensation talks. Should then be open slather and on the player to choose his destination.


Blitz is making the same mistake it always does, getting sucked into a “named” player instead of one we need. Gresham is more of a mid than a forward IMO. By bringing him in, we are not actually fixing our small forward issue, we are just increasing the small midfielder issue.

We need small forwards like Walla at his prime. What we are getting is an overpaid Jye Menzie. Gresham kicked 21 goals from 23 games and was often criticized by the media for now working hard enough. Menzie kicked 24 goals from 21 games and was sub in a game also.

There is a reason that there doesn’t appear to be a bidding war going on for Gresham.


You can only laugh at this level of revealing journalism.

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Unfortunately, tall defenders are low in supply and high in demand.
It may have actually been a good idea to draft so many talls across a few drafts and get that part out of the way. Unfortunately, we’ve struggled to keep them on the park and develop them. And we’re losing one to boot. So we need to grab one back.

I’m not too worried how long the contract is. The length means very little as long as the contract is front loaded. A 7 year contract will run past two broadcast rights (and PA agreements). And we’re locking in before two of them. It’s likely, Ben will want to be traded before this contract is done.

For me, I think we can get the deal done by leveraging off his ‘was a fan as a kid’.
It’s not the end of the world if we miss out, but it also isn’t too bad if we get him.
If we are stacked with defenders, that’s a good thing. We may be able to get another Jake Carlisle for a top 10 pick like trade for one of them.

Weird thing is, you get more trade value and return from tall players (including rucks) than midfielders.

Maybe Rosa will look at Freo players Sam Sturt (Dandenong) or Lachlan Schultz (Williamstown) as ready made small forward options, with a bit of experience under the belt and could come home to VIC at little cost and offer as much goals wise as Gresham.


He is more a high half forward that pushes up into the midfield. Which is the Snelling role. Clear upgrade and a need in modern footy.

He isn’t a pure small forward. Lohmann is more that type that we are also after.


If they match they can keep. We shouldn’t feel compelled to trade for him if they match. It’s stupid that the media makes out that if you offer a FA deal you should then be compelled to trade for someone with the “you pursued him, you have a responsibility to get it done” line. That isn’t how it works.

And if matching stuffs StKs cap all the better, then come for someone else.


It’s ok though, they got the word “circling” in the article.

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And the footy media is saying that esava is worth more than BZT, who played every game this year. It’s madness


Sturt. 14 games, 17 goals in 2023. 189cm. The Big Bodied Small Forward (BBSF ™ ) we’ve been looking for.

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The Age

The Bombers are waiting to learn if North Melbourne key defender Ben McKay nominates them as his free-agent destination. Fellow North Melbourne free agent, ruckman Todd Goldstein, is also weighing up an offer to join the Bombers.

Coach Brad Scott’s relationship with the pair from his time as North Melbourne coach is hoped to be persuasive.

The Bombers are also in discussions with the management of another free agent, St Kilda small forward Jade Gresham, but have not made an offer for him.

They are interested in Melbourne midfielder James Jordon, who is available as a free agent after previously being delisted and rookie-listed by the Demons. Recruiting sources who cannot be named due to the state of negotiations said Sydney were front-runners to secure Jordon along with his teammate Brodie Grundy.

Essendon defender Brandon Zerk-Thatcher has asked for a trade to Port Adelaide for family reasons, with the Bombers seeking a second-round draft pick in exchange. That deal is complicated by the fact Esava Ratugolea from Geelong has also asked for a trade to the Power and would command similar compensation in a trade


If Port manage to keep their future first and bring in Zerk and Esava their recruitment team deserve a gold medal!

Personally I’m not sure Zerk improves Port anymore than playing Jonas, and Esava has huge talent but still raw. Clearly confident in current list as they won’t have decent draft hand until 2025.

The life of an AFL journalist.

Have absolutely 0 news to share but just mention Essendon a bunch of times.


Jonas has retired and barely played this year. So I would say BZT is an improvement over Jonas simply because of that :sweat_smile:


Swans out of McKay race according to Cal

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mate, Dean Wallis would eat both mckay’s for breakfast.

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Its that time of year when my sauces shine.

I love the lead-up to trade week, particularly the trade wireless show. Its a better time than the actual footy season for us long-suffering Essington fans.

At least during trade week, and the draft, we have hope. Until our shiny toys get broken pre season.

Here is the rumour from up here:

My sauces tell me McKay has been offered a lifetime deal at Essington. However he is weighing up the Hawks life time plus offer.

Make of this what you will.
Time will tell.
Bet your house on this!

More to come. This has a long way to play out yet.


Probably because of Grundy. Can’t / won’t afford both.

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Either can’t afford both him and Grundy or baulking at the 6 years