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The Great Crow Clean-Out

You remember the ads – so-and-so must be absolutely, positively crazy to be offering deals like this! Come on in and take advantage of the crazy salesman with obvious mental health issues, right?

That’s exactly what clubs will be attempting to do this off-season as the Adelaide Crows have a monumental clean out of a list that promised so much and delivered so little in a season many (myself included) thought they may even contend for the flag.

Some of us may have even thought they’d win the whole damn thing. Kane Cornes… and me. What a coupling.

And so as the Crows “celebrate” the end of their season, they are just as much saying goodbye to plenty of talent that will be playing their footy elsewhere in 2020. There are certainties to leave, and quite a few maybes as well.

Let’s have a bit of a look at who has one foot out the door and who is watching them leave, thinking ‘Hmmm… maybe they’re onto something.” We’ll add some scenarios at the end, and as outlandish as they may sound, you just never know come AFL’s  silly season.

 

HUGH GREENWOOD – OUT OF CONTRACT, NON-FREE AGENT

If you want Greenwood, you’ll have to offer the Crows something in return. Out of contract, he is 27 and in the window of being able to deliver his best footy right now. Who should be looking at him? If I were Essendon, I’d be closely eyeing him as a bigger bodied midfielder to help out in the clinches. Doesn’t need to get 30 touches to have an impact, and will do plenty of the grunt work to allow others to shine. Could be a great help for Merrett/Shiel.

Could be a great fit for a Gold Coast team lacking in experience and strength.

 

JOSH JENKINS – CONTRACTED

Will be 31 by the time next season rolls around, and it looks as though his days with the Crows are completely and utterly over. With Darcy Fogarty finally being green-lit up forward late in the season, the writing is on the wall for JJ, and he’ll definitely be elsewhere next season, but where?

As it stands, I can see Adelaide having to pay part of his 2020 salary for a team to take him on, but as a secondary forward, many teams could do a lot worse than to pick him up. Melbourne have suffered without a good second option, and Sam Weideman may take a little longer to grow into a key position role. North Melbourne have kids who look likely (Larkey, Zurhaar) up forward, but a 1-2 year place for Jenkins as a more reliable forward option could aid Ben Brown. And Hawthorn lack a consistent forward presence outside Mitch Lewis (Tim O’Brien has come on, but I don’t trust him yet).

JJ will be a bargain pick up, and will cost very little at the trade table. Though he was dropped a couple of times, there is more to his axing than just poor form – he averaged two goals a game in 2019 and of others that played 5+ games, only Taylor Walker was able to do that for the Crows… and that was on the back of five goals in the last week. Only 13 players in the league were able to hit that mark.

 

BRYCE GIBBS – CONTRACTED

The Crows gave up two first rounders to bring Bryce home, and would be regretting it about now. Not as much as Gibbs, who was shunted off to the SANFL on multiple occasions. At 31 at the start of next season, he won’t be better in general, but surely an improvement on his 2019 form isn’t beyond him? After heading back to SA, Port Adelaide seems like a decent fit, particularly if they get a version of the 2018 Gibbs, who carried plenty of the load in the Crows midfield with many of their stars sidelined.

Other than that, perhaps Gold Coast could be convinced if he’s part of a package, but Gibbs looked so tentative this season, I’m not sure they need players looking to use their time there to find their own confidence. They need leaders.

 

TAYLOR WALKER – CONTRACTED

I like Tex, and he just had a 40-goal season, but his impact in big games was minimal, and there has been plenty of talk externally of whether his leadership has passed its used by date.

I cannot see the Crows moving Tex on – he is a heart-and-soul kind of player, but should he warm to the idea of playing elsewhere, maybe a fresh start is what he needs? He is 29, not overly mobile, and turns like a container ship at times, but his clean ball-handling and beautiful field kicking would come in handy, particularly for a team lacking a physical presence.

Skip to the bottom for an outlandish trade scenario involving Tex.

 

EDDIE BETTS – CONTRACTED

I think it is safe to say that if Eddie did not have a year to run on his current deal, he’d have been celebrated last week with a wonderful send-off befitting his status in the game. As it stands, he does have a year to run and the Crows are obliged to honour it - unless someone else wants him? I don’t think so.

Betts had a pretty ordinary year, and if you remove his flat track bully performances against the Suns, his numbers are pretty poor. I can see him bobbing up here or there, kicking a couple on rare occasions, and spending some time in the SANFL but his time as an elite small forward are probably gone. He can still be handy in patches, but isolating him forward now simply does not work.

A few rumours floating around link him back to Carlton, but with the Blues looking at the future, signing someone with a year left in him at best makes little sense.

2020 is the Eddie Betts farewell tour in Adelaide. They’d be smart to keep Eddie happy in his last go-around. In a club that has struggled for something to be happy about, the last thing you need is a club legend to be feeling upset and ostracized on his way out. How the Crows handle Eddie will have an impact on the rest of the group, whether he’s playing in the ones or not.

 

DARCY FOGARTY – CONTRACTED

Whoa… hang on Mongrel, the guy is kicking goals in the seniors now, right? Right, but he was nowhere near the seniors up until a few weeks back and there were a lot of rumblings about his level of contentment. Is four games in 2019 enough to convince the Fog that his future in Adelaide is bright enough? It was about five weeks ago that reports of his unhappiness were filtering through. Has he now been satisfied? Is that all it took? Has he got some assurances heading into 2020?

His performance against West Coast is enough for many teams, should he decide he wants out, that he is worth paying a hefty price for. If his name is up for trade, the number of teams interested would amount to more than those not interested.

Long-term readers would be aware that I am a Fog fan. I would be moving heaven, earth and any other planes of existence to hold onto him.

 

THE CROUCH BROTHERS – CONTRACTED

Floated as a possibility by Malcolm Blight because… well, because he sometimes thinks funny thoughts, this seems to have taken on some legs in recent weeks. Brad is just 25, and Matt a year younger, and given their output over the last few years, and potential to do more, any trade involving either would reap significant rewards back the other way.

This is complete speculation, of course, as neither brother has made any mention of playing somewhere else, but Matt’s name has been thrown into multiple trade options for the Crows going forward- he just had a career-high 47 touches against the Bulldogs as if to ram home his value.

 

ALEX KEATH – UNCONTRACTED, NON-FREE AGENT

Has been linked to both the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne from early in the season, which indicates that he has had one foot out the door for quite a while. Borderline All-Australian form through the first half of the season should see him hold decent value on the trade table

 

SAM JACOBS – UNCONTRACTED, RESTRICTED FREE AGENT

Another whose fate now lies elsewhere. Despite many believing Jacobs is still going to be in Adelaide next season, with Reilly O’Brien firmly establishing himself as a better, younger option this season, opportunities for Jacobs will be extremely limited.

There are some teams falling over themselves to secure a ruck that can compete with the dominant big men in the league – Essendon, Western Bulldogs and GWS all have significant issues at the ruck position going into 2020, but how much they’re willing to give up would be very interesting. If a team makes an offer, I can’t see the Crows matching

 

CAM ELLIS-YOLMEN – UNCONTRACTED, RESTRICTED FREE AGENT

Things have been strangely quiet on the future of CEY over the last couple of months, but I wonder how much of that has to do with him not actually playing – out of sight, out of mind?

The Crows have the option to match any offer that is forthcoming for the big-bodied mid, but I am not sure they’ll be able to. At 26, this is his big chance to secure a good contract, and at times in 2019, it speared as though he realised just how to use that big frame of his, wading through tackles in contested situations. I mentioned Essendon above in regard to Greenwood, but if I am Adrian Dodoro, I’m looking at Ellis-Yolmen first, as I don’t have to give up anything to get him.

 

DON PYKE – CONTRACTED

This is the big one. Has he lost the players? Has he run his race in Adelaide? Missing the finals two years in a row with the list he has at his disposal is as close to unforgivable as you can get. This was a team that was favoured to grab the 2017 flag and now they cannot make the eight?

There have been rumblings for a while, and with the coaching merry-go-round far from finished turning, you have to wonder just how many players would reconsider whether they stay or go based on whether Pyke is at the helm or not.

 

TRADE SCENARIOS – WHO SAYS NO TO THESE?

 

SCENARIO ONE - ESSENDON

Crows lose- Hugh Greenwood, Second Round Pick (current of future)

Crows gain – Either of Aaron Francis/Orazio Fantasia

Remember the mid-season rumours that Fantasia wanted to head home? What happened to them? Francis has made noise about wanting to head home multiple times and as soon as the Bombers are eliminated from the finals, I expect the wheels to start turning in regard to a trade for him.

It’s been the worst statistical season for Fantasia since his first in the league – clearly something’s up with him at Essendon, and it’s  not just a shitty hairstyle.

 

SCENARIO TWO – GOLD COAST

Crows lose – Matt Crouch, Hugh Greenwood, Taylor Walker, Bryce Gibbs, Carlton Pick

Crows gain – Jack Lukosius, priority pick (pick two)

kay, I may have pinched this idea from some podcast I was listening to - I can;t remember. Credit to whoever floated it.

The Crows free up the midfield glut with Matt Crouch moved into a team that desperately needs quality midfield grunt, Tex gets his new start and Greenwood is allowed to play significant midfield minutes, and obtain a prized pick that could allow for the drafting a future superstar. They add last season’s number two pick, who has had his first year in the system and should be ready to step up in 2020.

The Suns gain a big-bodied forward and mature bodies to compete with others in the middle. Matt Crouch, at 24, is the key to it all happening. If he says no, it all falls through.

 

SCENARIO THREE - COLLINGWOOD

Crows lose – The Carlton pick (pick four with GCS priority) and a future first rounder. Possibly Alex Keath.

Crows gain – Brodie Grundy

It might not be enough secure the best big man in the game (how about with Keath thrown in?), and with Reilly O’Brien a cut-price option, it’s a long shot, but a seven year deal for Grundy could be enough to entice the big fella out of black and white.

Pies fans will say no, but if it is looking likely that he will move on after 2020, they could look to get value for him right now. Grundy’s work ethic and grunt would add another dimension to the Crows, and if they can swing this deal, they are back in the frame pretty quickly for finals.

 

There are also deals for Keath and Jenkins to be factored in, but I cannot see them being for any more than a pick in the late first/second round for Keath, and probably a third rounder for Jenkins.

What’s your take on the Crows and where they’re headed this off-season? I cannot see them sitting on their hands at all – they have to be aggressive to once again become a power in the league. Two years on the outer after being so close to a flag is simply nowhere near good enough.

Something big is going to happen in Adelaide, and there will be causalities.

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