Trade period is all over with for another year, and as always, we could have really condensed it into 48 hours and got the same results without the copious amounts of posturing and fabricated scenarios.

But hey, it keeps AFL journos in jobs, I guess.

I’ve been looking over the results of the period and have compiled the AFL Trade Ladder for 2020 below for your perusal. How did your team fare, and will they rap the benefits of some hard bargaining, or pay for their stubbornness?

Or am I full of it?

Here we go…

 

1 – ESSENDON

In: Jye Caldwell, Peter Wright, Nick Hind, picks 7, 8, 44, 77, 87, Port Adelaide 2021 3rd round pick
Out: Adam Saad, Joe Daniher, Orazio Fantasia, Shaun McKernan, picks 48, 67, 73, 78, Essendon 2021 2nd and 4th round picks
2020 draft picks: 6, 7, 8, 44, 77, 85, 87

Huh? The best?

Yep… hear me out.

They are absolutely loaded coming into this draft, with three picks in the top ten, have offloaded Joe Daniher, who has not wanted to be there for a couple of seasons, and got rid of Orazio Fantasia… there is nothing positive I can write about Fantasia’s last couple of years at Essendon – nothing!

Adam Saad wanted out – they picked up a top ten pick for him and they got themselves a replacement running half back from St Kilda, in Nick Hind, who is ready-made and doesn’t just try to kick the ball as long as possible every time he touches it.

I heard someone on the radio arguing that Adam Saad is “effective with most possessions”. I reckon that person was a Champion Data devotee. They assess anything over 40m to be effective – irrespective of where it goes. What does Saad do with the footy? Bangs it on his boot every time.

The Bombers also stood firm on the deal for Jye Caldwell, and refused to pony up a first round pick for someone who is clearly not worth it, yet managed to get one for Saad… who is also clearly not worth it! It was an amazing display of smoke and mirrors from the Bombers and for all the heat Adrian Dodoro cops, this was a class in how to play the right card at the right time.

The pick-up of Peter Wright from Gold Coast them a pittance and they now sit with three top ten picks in the draft.

The Bombers have had little to be joyous about over the last little while. The reported disharmony at the club, Conor McKenna retiring after a tumultuous, disruptive two years, the Daniher saga, the idiocy of Fantasia and the coaching succession plan… it’s been a bit of a mess. However, if we look at this trade period and the upcoming draft as step one and two to a return to glory, I have to admit… they’re pretty good bloody steps!

 

2 – WESTERN BULLDOGS

In: Adam Treloar, Stefan Martin, Mitch Hannan, picks 26, 33, 42
Out: Lachie Young, picks 14 and Western Bulldogs 2021 2nd and 3rd round picks
2020 draft picks: 26, 33, 41, 42, 54, 90

Many people have them listed at number one, and I can see why when you look at things on paper.

They’ve brought in Stef Martin to help Tim English.

They’ve brought in Adam Treloar to an already stacked midfield.

They’ve retained Josh Dunkley.

They’ve added Mitch Hannan.

But my issue with this is that they’ve retained a bloke that made it abundantly clear he did not want to be there. More to the point, they recruited yet another bloke who will make the midfield squeeze even tighter. I’m not sure how that fixes things.

Am I being pedantic? Maybe, but Treloar is a walk-up start to any midfield in the competition. So is Bont. So is Macrae. So is… you see the issue? They have Bailey Smith coming along beautifully, Lachie Hunter on a wing… they have the best midfield in the game.

So did Collingwood just a couple of seasons ago – remember that? Matthew Lloyd called it the greatest midfield ever assembled…

The other thing that worries me is Stef Martin’s body. I mean, it bloody looks good, but it kind of let him down in 2020. In order for that to work in the Dogs’ favour, he needs a run of 14-17 games in 2021 where he can crash bodies with Brodie Grundy, Max Gawn and Nic Naitanui, allowing Tim English to pick his spots as his development continues. I have a feeling that move may be a year too late, but I guess we’ll see.

It’s funny, but I reckon Mitch Hannan might prove to be the best bang for buck pick up of the year for the Dogs. Plenty of zippiness about his game and will have fun with the midfield winning so much of the footy.

Oh, and I did love the Dogs absolutely bending the Pies over in regard to Treloar’s salary. Nice work there, from Mr Power.

They also managed to accumulate enough picks to have points to cover a bid on Jamarra Ugle-Haden. Not a bad effort at all, Doggies. In hindsight, so much of how this period is viewed will depend on how Dunkley goes in 2021. If he is squeezed out of the midfield entirely… he’d have to be gone after 2021, and perhaps for a lower price than this season.

 

4 – GEELONG

In: Jeremy Cameron, Isaac Smith, Shaun Higgins, pick 51, Essendon 2021 2nd round pick, Greater Western Sydney 2021 2nd round pick and Melbourne’s 2021 3rd round selection
Out: Lachie Fogarty, Nakia Cockatoo, picks 13, 15, 20, 38 and Geelong 2021 4th round pick
2020 draft picks: 51, 96

Win now!

That is it for the Cats, who just traded away three first round picks to secure the 2019 Coleman Medallist to play alongside the 2020 Coleman Medallist up forward.

Do I think they overpaid?

Nope. Not really. Had Brandan Parfitt been a part of the deal, I would have said yes – you know what you’re getting with him and I love what he provides to the Cats. Retaining him AND securing Cameron is a huge win. Picks are a risk – Parfitt is a known quantity.

Isaac Smith on the opposite wing to Sam Menegola provides the Cats with elite running power on both sides of the ground, whilst Shaun Higgins (played on the wing at North) will most likely spend more time in the middle as part of the Geelong outfit.

As much as the deals that were done make a difference, the retention of Charlie Constable is just as important. It will be interesting to see whether he can force his way into this Geelong side brimming with top-tier talent in 2021.

The only issue – age. Higgins is 32. Smith is 31. They are short term solutions, but if they result in a flag, the price will be worth it.

 

4 – CARLTON BLUES

In: Zac Williams, Adam Saad, Lachie Fogarty, picks 38, 48 and 78
Out: picks 8, 30, 51 and 87
2020 draft picks: 38, 48, 78

The Blues got their men, adding Adam Saad and Zac Williams to a team that really should press for finals in 2021.

In doing so they traded their way out of the first round, but given the state of this year’s draft and what we have/haven’t been able to see of prospects, I reckon this was the year to do it.

Saad’s role is set in stone. He will be the running defender that will give the opposition coaches a choice to make. Do I sit someone on Saad? Or do I sit someone on Docherty?

The role of Zac Williams has me intrigued. We’ve all heard about him being used as a midfielder, but I am not completely sold. We’re basing this on a period in 2019 where he stepped up his game and took on a role for GWS in the guts as their established mids fought injury. Yes, he was great in that period, but are the Blues getting THAT version of Williams? Or are they getting the 2018 or 2020 version, who wasn’t in the same shape and his body would not allow him to reach the heights he is capable of?

The Blues have taken a gamble on him and, truth be told, they probably needed to. He has managed 37 of a possible 66 games over the past three seasons – they need to ensure he is in the best possible shape to start the season. History tells us that if he isn’t, things don’t pan out well.

Lachie Fogarty was a fringe player at the Cats, but as of right now, he gets a game at the Blues ahead of Lochie O’Brien and maybe even Paddy Dow.

 

5 – WEST COAST

In: Alex Witherden, Zac Langdon, picks, 62, Port Adelaide 2021 2nd round pick and Sydney 2021 3rd round pick
Out: Tom Hickey, picks 34, 54, 60
2020 draft picks: 62, 86, 91

The draft is a complete wash for the Eagles this season, but similar to Geelong, they are in complete win-now mode.

The pick-up of Zac Langdon adds some defensive pressure inside 50 and if he can retain a regular spot in the Eagles front half, will have opposition small defenders looking over their shoulder. His skillset is a great complement to that of Liam Ryan, who more than covers off the offensive side of the role.

In the “beautiful lies/ugly truths” column I published last week for the eagles, I wrote about the impact, long-term, a player like Alex Witherden could have for the club. As a rebounding defender, he will be earmarked as the logical replacement for Shannon hurn when the time comes for the former skipper to retire.

With Witherden just 22 years old and already with 59 games under his belt, he is an incredibly astute pick-up by the Eagles and could turn out to be one of those deals that is reflected on as a brilliant move in years to come.

The loss of Hickey places a bit more pressure on Nathan Vardy to get right, and also on Nic Nat to bump that game time up to around the 75-80% mark to have a longer lasting influence in games.

 

6 – ST KILDA

In: Brad Crouch, Jack Higgins Shaun McKernan, picks 21, 67, 74 and Richmond 2021 4th round pick
Out: Nick Hind, picks 17, 77 and St Kilda 2021 2nd round pick
2020 draft picks: 21, 64, 67, 74, 93

Could they be higher? Yeah… maybe.

The Brad Crouch pick up cost them nothing and with Jack Higgins adding more talent to a forward half that was already looking very promising, the Saints have bolstered a line-up that found their feet in 2020.

McKernan will play the role of insurance man in the case Max King gets hurt, but the real win is Higgins, for me.

Basically, with the deal costing them four spots in the draft and future pick swap to their benefit, the Saints made out like bandits here. To say I am pretty jealous of their acquisition is an understatement. At his best, I think jack Higgins could be an All-Australian forward pocket. Maybe not in 2021 as he continues to recover from pretty serious surgery, but back playing for the team he grew up supporting, Higgins’ long term value is huge to the Saints.

 

7 – NORTH MELBOURNE

In: Jaidyn Stephenson, Aidan Corr, Lachie Young, Atu Bosenavulagi, picks 30, 39 and Brisbane 2021 4th round pick
Out: Ben Brown, Shaun Higgins, picks 28, 63, North Melbourne 2021 4th round pick
2020 draft picks: 2, 11, 30, 39, 71, 81

One big loss, particularly when you look at his three years prior to 2020, but the Roos made their intentions of moving Ben Brown no secret, and got back a minimum return as a result. They have to wear that – it’s their own fault.

Higgins wandered off to chase a flag and took his lack of inside 50s and score involvements with him (really low numbers for a bloke that got so much clean footy on the outside), so while the losses of the Roos were pretty big on paper, I’m not sure it hurts them too much going forward.

Stephenson COULD be a huge acquisition. So much depends on where his head is at. He didn’t look like an AFL player in the back half of 2020 and even appeared as though he didn’t want the footy kicked to him at stages. There’s some work to be done there, but North were screaming out for a small forward, and combining him with Larkey and Zurhaar, North has found some real positivity at a time when people were happily sinking the boots into them. Good to see.

Still have pick two sitting there and though I believe pick 11 will balloon out with academy picks, they find themselves in a really good position, with Corr coming in to aid the reliable Robbie Tarrant in defence.

Some will still proclaim doom and gloom, but there is some blue skies there too if you look for them.

 

8 – PORT ADELAIDE

In: Aliir Aliir, Orazio Fantasia, pick 73
Out: pick 29 and Port Adelaide’s 2021 2nd and 3rd round picks
2020 draft picks: 35, 47, 57, 73, 95

I heard they were rated as an A+ by many, I am not as sold.

Aliir is a great pick up, with the ability to play an anchoring role in defence and help out in the ruck. Port gave up bugger all to get him and he should be a first-22 player to bolster their back six, who have been found to be a little undersized against a bloke like Tom Hawkins.

Fantasia… guys, I hope you know what you’re getting with him. Watching him over the last couple of years, I’ve seen a disinterested, self-absorbed wanker of a player at Essendon. The way he fluctuated on the trade last trade period with Port, I am surprised you guys still wanted him. Have up a second rounder for him, which given his form line, was pretty generous.

I will be interested to see how Fantasia fits in a forward line already boasting Rozee, Butters and Gray as the small options. If he displays anything like he did at Essendon over the past couple of years, he’ll be a SANFL player, but his best makes Port a very dangerous proposition with the ball on the deck.

No first round picks this season for the Power.

 

9 – RICHMOND

In: pick 17, St Kilda 2021 2nd round pick, Gold Coast 2021 3rd round pick
Out: Oleg Markov, Jack Higgins, pick 21 and Richmond 2021 4th round pick
2020 draft picks: 17, 36, 61, 79, 97

Their losses are significant, yet probably unavoidable. When you’re the premiers, it becomes very difficult to retain everybody. Teams want a winning culture and importing players from the premiers is a good way to do that.

I listened to a bloke on the radio this morning saying “good riddance Jack Higgins.”

Craziness. If Higgins can get back on the trajectory he was on prior to his brain surgery, the Saints are on a winner.

Markov showed plenty of promise but would have been starved for opportunity and a fair bit of coin had he wanted to stay. I don’t think genuine Tiger faithful would begrudge either of them heading elsewhere, particularly as they weren’t in the best-22 come the pointy end of the season. Except for the nuffie on the radio.

Held onto Pickett, held onto Broad and moved up four places in the first round. That’s a great result.

 

10 – GWS

In: Jesse Hogan, Braydon Preuss, picks 10, 13, 15, 20, 29, Geelong’s 2021 4th round pick
Out: Jeremy Cameron, Zac Williams, Jye Caldwell, Aidan Corr, Zac Langdon, picks 44, 54, 74
2020 draft picks: 10, 13, 15, 20, 29, 52, 74, 88

Losing a player of Jeremy Cameron’s stature would be enough to cripple a weak club, but the Giants have taken a gamble on Jesse Hogan who will be able to share the load with Himmelberg and Finlayson in attack for the Giants, so the loss may not be as terrible as it could have been for a club with less talent at its disposal.

With three first rounders incoming from Geelong, plus their own, GWS have four picks inside the top 20 as they continue to stockpile young talent.

Wilted on their demands for Jye Caldwell, but held fast to their Cameron asking price and got it.

The addition of Preuss cannot be any worse than last season’s addition of Sam Jacobs. He will be the number one ruck as Mummy hangs around for another crack at it.

Other losses – Aidan Corr should be countered by the return of Sam Taylor (I rate him highly) and Zac Williams… Giants fans, I reckon you let him go at the right time. Wants to play midfield minutes but did not have the conditioning to do so in 2020. We’ll see Whitfield play permanent half back flank to cover, particularly with the retirement of Heath Shaw, but I would not be losing any sleep over Williams’ departure. They’re basing everything on his brief 2019 run in the middle. I need a bigger sample size before I bemoan his loss.

Also refused to budge on Jackson Hately, as they obviously rate him very highly. He’ll now have to go through the draft to get to the Crows.

 

11 – BRISBANE LIONS

In: Joe Daniher, Nakia Cockatoo, picks 25, 53, 58, 63, 68, 69 and Melbourne’s 2021 1st round pick and West Coast’s 3rd round pick
Out: Alex Witherden, Stefan Martin, picks 18, 19, 43, 70, 86 and Brisbane’s 2021 2nd and 4th round picks
2020 draft picks: 25, 53, 58, 63, 68, 69, 94

A bit low, you think?

Maybe, but the acquisitions of the Lions are huge question marks. Joe Daniher has been a groin injury with a torso attached for the last few years, whilst Cockatoo has been injured more often than healthy for the Cats.

If things go right, the moves look like a masterstroke, but the fact that the Lions did not put Daniel McStay on the table tells me they’re not overly confident that Daniher will be the answer to their forward line issues in 2021.

The loss of Stef Martin after doing the hard yards for this team is made bearable by the form of Oscar McInerney in 2020. Stef heads to the Dogs to help Tim English as the Big O does not seem to need the help as much.

Witherden hurts a little. Plenty of potential in him but the Lions have moved away from him as an option. This one might be one of those deals that comes back to bite.

No first round pick for the Lions this season, either.

If Daniher fires, it’s a great trade period. If not… they didn’t really get substantially worse.

 

12 – GOLD COAST

In: Rory Atkins, Oleg Markov, Essendon 2021 4th round pick
Out: Peter Wright, Gold Coast 2021 3rd and 4th round picks
2020 draft picks: 5, 27, 37, 76, 84

I’m not sold on the deal for Atkins – he always struck me as a bit of a fringe player at the Crows and I hope he is more like a Brandon Ellis pick up than a George Horlin-Smith pick up for the Suns.

The loss of Peter Wright is no big deal, as he was not playing anyway, but I reckon the big win for the Suns here is their retention of Will Brodie and Brayden Fiorini – both of whom found themselves on the outer in 2020 but have elected not to pursue trades.

The addition of Oleg Markov is a good one. The Tigers rated him and he showed plenty in his games there, but breaking into a premiership side isn’t easy, and on a better deal with the Suns, he could be one of the recruits of the season.

Still hold a top five pick, as well. By the end of next season, the Suns will be the envy of every team in the league in terms of young talent. Retention will be interesting in coming seasons.

 

13 – HAWTHORN

In: Tom Phillips, Kyle Hartigan and pick 45
Out: Isaac Smith, pick 65 and Hawthorn 2021 4th round pick
2020 draft picks: 4, 24, 45, 46, 49, 72

Swooped in and grabbed Tom Phillips for a bag of chips (cheezels… not even Smiths!) late in the piece and his presence will replace that of the departing Isaac Smith as the Hawks seem to be in a bit of a holding pattern as they look to build without having a fire sale.

The acquisition of Hartigan is a band aid to cover the loss of James Frawley but the focus is very much on the future, with pick four vital to their pseudo-rebuild.

I would really have liked to see them have a crack at Jack Higgins to bolster their scoring punch, but they knocked back the advances for Jack Gunston (seriously, how could Collingwood have afforded him?) to maintain a nice one-two punch with Luke Breust.

 

14 – MELBOURNE

In: Ben Brown, picks 18, 19, 28, 50 and Brisbane 2021 2nd round pick, Western Bulldogs 2021 3rd round pick, North Melbourne 2021 4th round pick
Out: Braydon Preuss, Mitch Hannan, picks 26, 53, 68, 69 and Melbourne’s 2021 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th round picks
2020 draft picks: 18, 19, 28, 50, 89

The addition of Brown is a big one… as long as the team has someone who can hit him on the lead.

And therein lies the problem.

The Dees are a terrible midfield kicking team and unless they start lowering their eyes, the addition of brown could see him becoming the new Tom McDonald.

Hannan is a player I’ve rated and I thought he had the capacity to add some real zip around the forward line, however with the Dees holding two late first round picks, they can bolster their young stocks at the Draft.

The loss of Preuss is no biggie – Gawn plays 92% of game time. I have no idea why Preuss went there in the first place.

 

15 – SYDNEY

In: Tom Hickey, picks 25, 34, 60
Out: Aliir Aliir, picks 31, 43, 58, 62 and 2021 3rd round pick
2020 draft picks: 3, 31, 34, 43, 60, 82

Brought Hickey in to alleviate the pressure on Cal Sinclair, but I feel the loss of Aliir could hurt as time ticks by.

Hickey is a surprisingly underrated clearance player and was in the top handful of rucks in the league in 2017/18in extracting the footy, himself. Playing behind Naitanui, that aspect of his game was obviously overshadowed, but his addition to Sydney will allow Sinclair to drift forward more often (has a good pair of hands) and will fill the void left by the injured Naismith.

Still retaining pick three in the draft, the Swans will add another future star to their nucleus of young players, which – believe it or not – is one of the best crops of 23 and under players in the league.

 

16 – ADELAIDE CROWS

In: picks 23, 40, Melbourne 2021 2nd and 4th rounders, Hawthorn 2021 4th rounder
Out: Brad Crouch, Rory Atkins, Kyle Hartigan, picks 33 and 50
2020 draft picks: 1, 9, 22, 23, 40, 56, 66, 80

Missed out on Jackson Hately, which has to hurt. He would have been one of the pillars of the midfield rebuild.

Theyll get Hately in the draft, but also lost Hartigan, who plenty of Crows supporters will be fine seeing the back of – ditto Rory Atkins, and got screwed on the Brad Crouch signing at St Kilda.

Retain two picks in the top ten (pick nine will blow out a bit with academy selections) but they’re investing in their kids and might take a while to recreate a culture that sees the Crows become a destination club.

But yes… they may eventually get Hately anyway –  would be very nice to work alongside Matt Crouch and Rory  Sloane as he learns the caper.

 

17 – FREMANTLE

In: pick 55
Out: Jesse Hogan
2020 draft picks: 12, 32, 55

Very quiet and gave up Jesse Hogan for bugger-all just to see the back of him. Completely understandable in a vacuum, but when you consider what he cost, it hurts a bit.

Interesting that Connor Blakely remains on the list, despite being out of the side for most of the season.

The focus must now go on re-signing Cerra and Brayshaw. If the Dockers do that in the next few months, then their actions in this trade period don’t really make a lot of a difference to a side that should contend for a finals spot next season… injuries permitting.

 

18 – COLLINGWOOD

In: picks 14, 65, 70, Western Bulldogs 2021 second round pick
Out: Adam Treloar, Jaidyn Stephenson, Tom Phillips, Atu Bosenavulagi, picks 39 and 42
2020 draft picks: 14, 16, 65, 70, 75, 92

What a mess…

Apparently the Pies wanted to move back into the draft according to Ned Guy, and they did! With Pick 14. Ugh!

Their losses here are huge and they are the collateral damage from the disastrous Dayne Beams deal, the Brodie Grundy seven-year deal, the re-signing of Darcy Moore and the pending signature of Jordan de Goey. It reeks of a team that wanted to sell success to get players to take less coin and “stay together” but it has fallen over.

Yes, it has worked at other clubs over the journey, but it is usually accompanied by a premiership or two.

The Pies have lost high-quality players and a youngster with both a high upside and a very low downside and have very little to show for it. More to the point, it would leave the team hesitant to sign any deal, or renegotiate their salary to help the team, knowing that the club could flip them to save cap space when it suits them.

Really shot themselves in the foot this trade period, but I guess if you want to retain players like Moore and de Goey, you’ve gotta make some really shitty calls. And these were really shitty calls.

 

So, there we go. Just so you know, I haven’t really delved into any of the mainstream articles about the trade period. I wanted this to be as organic as possible so it is quite possible I’ve seen things differently to the “experts”. That’s all good, but I am happy to hear what you guys think is right/wrong with the ladder.

I’d also love to hear whether you think any of the potential concerns I have with moves hold water, or are more “old man yells at cloud” kind of rants. That does happen to me at times.

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