HISTORY says Jake Stringer will eventually find his way to Essendon.
But right now, with pick 11 in the hands of Greater Western Sydney, it is much harder to imagine.
The Bombers today traded their top pick to the Giants in a complex deal for Devon Smith and that would have Jake pondering whether a return to Whitten Oval is on the cards.
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All the hyperbole about it simply being impossible for Stringer to go back is just that. After all, if next Thursday’s 2pm trade deadline passes and no deal is struck, he is contracted there.
What other choice is there? Sit out 2018? That won’t happen.
The Western Bulldogs were clear on Monday when they told Essendon pick 11 must be the key plank in a deal.
Perhaps they even asked the Bombers for a little bit more. Were players discussed? Did they see if Nakia Cockatoo would be available if negotiating with Geelong?
Whatever unfolded, talks on Monday ended with the clear objective to secure pick 11.
That would net astute recruiter Simon Dalrymple two first-round picks (No. 9 and 11) for the first time since he drafted Stringer and Jack Macrae five years ago.
After securing Smith, Essendon now holds picks 24, 28 and a pair of second-round picks in next year’s draft.
It is a nice hand. But it will still take some manoeuvring to make it a killer hand with a juicy pick that will satisfy the Dogs.
Essendon wants to use Jake Stringer in the midfield. Picture: Michael Klein
Could they trade their future first-round pick? In a stronger draft, you suspect that would get it done, and it should be a pick lower than 11 given the expected improvement with Saad, Stringer and Smith powering up all parts of the ground.
Essendon’s strategy is to strike deals for Adam Saad and Stringer while retaining homesick South Australian Aaron Francis.
And they are all-in on Stringer. The supposed baggage Stringer comes with isn’t a knockout factor when they are this keen to throw down the welcome mat.
“Obviously, you do your due diligence and we’ve spoken to Jake a number of times,” Dons footy boss Rob Kerr said on Monday.
“We believe our culture is a strong culture and the senior players have bought into it, so it would be a good move for Jake, and for Essendon.”
They have told the 23-year-old he is in store for a brutal summer of fitness training, because the Bombers want to use him for large midfield bursts next season. He has committed to that.
They have met with him over and over and over again, from list manager Adrian Dodoro to coach John Worsfold and even chief executive Xavier Campbell.
You would back them to get it done in a trade period they are desperate to shed the ‘hard-to-work — with’ tag.
But now it requires much more work.