Trade winds set to blow in strongly in AFL

Hawthorn Hawks player Matthew Suckling possess the ball against the Adelaide Crows in the second semi-final of the AFL at the MCG in Melbourne.
Hawthorn Hawks player Matthew Suckling possess the ball against the Adelaide Crows in the second semi-final of the AFL at the MCG in Melbourne. JULIAN SMITH

It was the calm before the storm. If the lead-up to the league's annual meat market is anything to go by, the winds of change are about to blow as hard as ever.

The AFL has come a long way since 2008 when there were just six trades at season's end, which prompted calls for greater avenues for player movement, such as the introduction of free agency.

That would finally come four years later, leading to 14 free agents shifting clubs in 2012, as well as 28 trades.

There were a further 27 free agency movements over the past two years (15 in 2013 and 12 in 2014), along with 45 trades (27 in 2013 and 18 in 2014), including three involving only the exchange of draft picks.

This year's free agency period began on Friday, ahead of what will be another busy trade period, starting today.
Matt Suckling on Saturday became the fifth Hawk to benefit from the increased exchange options, the two-time premiership winner and unrestricted free agent agreeing to join the Western Bulldogs.

Taking up a three-year deal, Suckling (pictured) will follow Xavier Ellis (West Coast), Lance Franklin (Sydney) and since retired pair Tom Murphy (Gold Coast) and Clinton Young (Collingwood) out of Waverley Park.

Dogs list manager Jason McCartney told "Matthew's exciting and daring brand of football will really complement our style of play."

Patrick Dangerfield, Matthew Leuenberger, Dennis Armfield, Courtenay Dempsey, Tayte Pears, Brent Stanton, Brendan Whitecross, Michael Firrito, Patrick McGinnity and Jarrad Grant remain unsigned restricted or unrestricted free agents, while Dawson Simpson, Matthew Stokes, Steve Johnson, Jed Adcock and Mark Jamar are delisted free agents.

West Coast restricted free agent Scott Selwood announced on Friday he wanted to join Geelong.

Young Hawk Jed Anderson, meanwhile, may join a long list of non-free agents on the move. Highly skilled but underused in his first two seasons, he will be in demand over the next fortnight after it was reported he was open to offers.

Melbourne's perennial mark of the year contender Jeremy Howe has attracted interest from Gold Coast, which needs to increase its attacking options, especially with Charlie Dixon and Harley Bennell out the door, but the out-of-contract forward looks set to join North Melbourne.

Topics:  afl hawks

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