With some of the biggest names in the game facing free agency, we’re taking a look at which players are out-of-contract at the conclusion of 2022 and who your club should re-sign immediately.

Adelaide

Taylor Walker

Veteran Taylor Walker is looking likely to continue his AFL career with the Crows, as the star full-forward doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Despite a call by on-lookers and ‘experts’ to potentially offer up Walker to a club in the premiership window, the 32-year-old still has a lot to offer on and off the field, and proves to be one of few experienced campaigners required at Adelaide.

Other key signings: Lachlan Gollant, Billy Frampton and Elliot Himmelberg

Brisbane

Daniel McStay

The 26-year-old now enters the market as a restricted free agent, although looking comfortable at the Lions. McStay has quickly become an important cog in Chris Fagan’s forward line and looks to continue to be for the foreseeable future. Playing alongside Joe Daniher and Charlie Cameron, the Lions have a death-by-a-thousand-cuts approach as if one of their stars doesn’t get you, the other will and McStay is the perfect role player and still yet to hit his prime.

Other key signings: Dayne Zorko, Darcy Gardiner, Darcy Fort, Deven Robertson

Daniel McStay - Brisbane

Carlton

Lewis Young

Crossing from the Bulldogs after 2021 for more opportunity, Young has entered Ikon Park as a utility, as the 201cm has been deployed all over the ground in his short career. Only 23 years old, Young has plenty of upside, playing in six games for the Blues this season, in the absence of Mitch McGovern. The young star has provided plenty to work with for the Carlton coaching group and would be a player they’d like to keep for the long-term.

Other key signings: Matthew Owies, Oscar McDonald, Will Setterfield, David Cunningham

Collingwood

Jordan De Goey

De Goey looms as one of the biggest names as he is entering the market as a restricted free agent. As talks between the star-forward and the Pies have begun, De Goey does look like resigning and repaying the faith the club has showed him. However, there will be hail-mary offers from rival teams that will try and pry the talented footballer out of the AIA Centre.

Other key signings: Jamie Elliot, Darcy Cameron, Josh Daicos, Jeremy Howe, Oliver Henry, Tyler Brown

Essendon

Andrew McGrath

McGrath is acknowledged as a future leader and is why his significance to his club’s fate is paramount. The no.1 draft pick is finally establishing himself in the AFL and gaining more confidence each game. As part of the new, youthful wave coming from Tullamarine, McGrath seems to be one of the key signings within the next year as Essendon try put together a list that can contend with the best.

Other key signings: James Stewart, Kyle Langford, Kaine Baldwin, Aaron Francis

Fremantle

Alex Pearce

Defender Alex Pearce comes out of contract as a restricted free agent but will be looking to staying put. After nine years of service and finally getting some continuity in his body, Pearce looks to be at the top of his game and is seen as one of the elite key defenders in the game. Still entering his prime, if the Dockers can keep him fit and in purple, their chances of premiership glory increase, as the 26-year-old’s significance to his team is preeminent. Pearce is also flagged as a future leader.

Other key signings: Blake Acres, Griffin Logue, Will Brodie, Nathan O’Driscoll, James Aish, Bailey Banfield

Alex Pearce - Fremantle

Geelong

Max Holmes

Chris Scott’s list is filled with experience and is sometimes deemed too ‘senior’ as the Cats have been quizzed on whether or not they should rebuild. However, of the very little young talent they do coming out of contract, Max Holmes seems to be one they’d want to lock away. After an impressive start to 2022 and consistent senior selection, Holmes unfortunately suffered an injury to his syndesmosis and will return in the second-half of the year, In spite of his injury, Holmes could be a face Geelong would want to see in the white/blue hoops for many years to come.

Other key signings: Brandon Parfitt, Quinton Narkle, Mark O’Connor

Gold Coast

Jack Lukosius

The re-signing of Lukosius is paramount to the Suns, with the club finally seeing some improvement in the young talent. Pick 2 in 2018, the 21-year-old poses as a key piece to the Gold Coast puzzle, with his ability to play behind the ball and in front of it. Standing at 193cm tall, Lukosius has been played all over the ground and his elite ball use suggests the club wants the footy in his hands.

Other key signings: Izak Rankine, Lachlan Weller, Alex Davies

GWS

Tim Taranto

Taranto also comes out-of-contract come season’s end. Despite his desires to remain at GWS and continue his impressive career at the most recent expansion club, offers from other clubs back to his “home” state will be presented, but expect him to turn his back and stay put. The star player has been deployed in the forward line in absence of Toby Greene but is also one of the elite midfielders alongside Tom Green.

Other key signings: Tanner Bruhn, Ian Hill, Jake Stein

Hawthorn

Mitchell Lewis

Key forward Mitchell Lewis has finally come into his own in 2022 and is a key cog in the Hawthorn chain for years to come. Low on tall forwards, Lewis’ importance to the club is increased, especially as veterans Jack Gunston and Luke Breust come toward the end of their career. The 23-year-old can be seen as the future of the Hawks and is why he should be re-signed as quickly as possible.

Other key signings: Connor Nash, Chad Wingard, Emerson Jeka, Daniel Howe, Tom Phillips

Melbourne

Angus Brayshaw

Brayshaw also becomes a restricted free agent at the end of 2022, with the star halfback looking likely to extend his time with the reigning premiers as they vie for back-to-back premierships. Brother and Fremantle midfielder, Andrew, has attempted to entice his brother to make the switch across to WA and play alongside him. However, the junior midfielder might not love his current role across halfback and may seek to find more time in the centre elsewhere.

Other key signings: Luke Jackson, Joel Smith, Toby Bedford, Michael Hibberd

Angus Brayshaw - Melbourne

North Melbourne

Cam Zurhaar

Amid contract discussions about prized no.1 Jason Horne-Francis, Cam Zurhaar’s signature has been somewhat undervalued currently. Zurhaar has been a shining light over the past few years for North Melbourne and would be a key signing as they rebuild the club from the ground up. The talented forward is only 24-years-old and has plenty of good years ahead of him.

Other key signings: Tom Powell, Bailey Scott, Kayne Turner, Curtis Taylor, Flynn Perez, Todd Goldstein, Ben Cunnington, Aaron Hall

Port Adelaide

Karl Amon

After a career-best season in 2021, Karl Amon, as well as Port Adelaide, have not reached the heights we expected of them yet. Although playing consistently throughout the first eight games, Amon did briefly fall out of favour until brought back into the side. However, the talented left-footer is a quality footballer for the Power, complementing tough-nuts Ollie Wines and Travis Boak, with his spread and ball-use. Amon is originally from Victoria and would be on the priority list for many clubs, which is why he’s a key signing for 2023 and beyond.

Other key signings: Robbie Gray, Lachie Jones, Trent McKenzie, Travis Boak

Richmond

Daniel Rioli

Rioli has now played in all positions on the ground and looks most dangerous across the halfback. Although a part of the premiership success in recent years, this newfound role has rejuvenated the 25-year-old and given him more life than being part of a struggling forward line in 2021. Unlikely to go anywhere else, Rioli’s signature is still one the Tigers would want sooner rather than later, as he has plenty of good footy ahead of him.

Other key signings: Kane Lambert, Jack Ross, Liam Baker, Nathan Broad, Jack Riewoldt, Maurice Rioli

St Kilda

Rowan Marshall

Marshall is one of the most important re-signings as the Saints look forward to the future. The 26-year-old has battled injuries but looks to be coming into his straps, competing well against the competition’s best. As Paddy Ryder enters retirement in the coming years, Marshall will take pole as no.1 ruckman at St Kilda and will be a key part if the Saints are to do any damage come finals time. 

Other key signings: Jack Higgins, Josh Battle, Daniel Butler, Zak Jones, Ben Paton, Paddy Ryder

Rowan Marshall - St Kilda

Sydney

Paddy McCartin

With not a lot of out-of-contract stars, the Swans do need to cover their bases, with Paddy McCartin looking like signing on. Being dealt a terrible bout of concussion trouble over the years that almost ended his career, McCartin was given a lifeline and has taking all opportunities since joining Sydney. Only 26-years-old, the former Saint has joined his brother, Tom, in defence and looks more than comfortable playing against the game’s best forwards. McCartin will be crucial to the Swans’ finals chances in years to come as long as he remains on the park.

Other key signings: Jake Lloyd, Lance Franklin, Oliver Florent

West Coast

Willie Rioli

A lot of speculation in West Coast’s list as some suggest try to trade out some of their stars. With Nic Naitanui, Josh Kennedy and Luke Shuey likely to remain where they are, the decline of the Eagles could create some questions for the younger players. Willie Rioli is such an important figure up forward and when he goes through the midfield for West Coast. A part of the premiership team in 2018, Rioli is a signing the Eagles would want as soon as possible, to put their mind at ease that the 26-year-old isn’t going anywhere.

Other key signings: Nic Naitanui, Luke Shuey, Josh Kennedy, 

Western Bulldogs

Tim English

Amongst a list of key talent the Bulldogs need to re-sign, Tim English is on the priority list as one who could look to moving back to WA. With limited ruck stocks and English being the premier ruckman, Luke Beveridge needs to keep the boy from South Fremantle if the Dogs are any chance in the future. Although it is only speculation, the lure home for English could be too much and is why the Western Bulldogs need to ensure he’s happy down at the Kennel.

Other key signings: Bailey Smith, Caleb Daniel, Josh Dunkley, Bailey Dale, Alex Keath

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