Geelong’s premiership celebrations may only be warming up, but even though the 2022 season has only just drawn to a close, the AFL world continues to turn.
For 17 other clubs, the work to catch up to the Cats has already started and is about to step up a gear.
The annual trade period and draft offers clubs the opportunity to freshen up their lists, and players the chance to make a new start in their careers.
Here’s when the trade period officially begins, how it will all work and what to look out for this year.
When does the AFL trade period start?
The 2022 AFL trade period officially opens at 9:00am on Monday, October 3 and closes at 7:30pm on Wednesday, October 12.
Throughout those nine days, clubs are able to trade players and draft picks.
The period for restricted and unrestricted free agents to move clubs is slightly different, opening on Friday, September 30 and closing on Friday, October 7.
There are also two other small windows in November in which delisted free agents are able to sign for new clubs.
How does AFL free agency work?
If a player is out of contract, has been at a club for eight years and is in the top 25 per cent of earners at the club, they are eligible to become a restricted free agent.
If a player is out of contract, is outside the top 25 per cent of earners at the club, has been at that club for at least 10 years and has previously qualified as a restricted free agent, they are eligible to become an unrestricted free agent.
THE restricted free agent is able to receive contract offers from rival clubs, which his existing club is able to match if they choose to. If the offer is matched, the restricted free agent can either stay at his current club or nominate for the draft.
If the offer is not matched, the player can change clubs and the original club is eligible to receive compensation from the AFL by way of draft picks.
An unrestricted free agent is able to receive contract offers from rival clubs and can freely leave without his existing club having any recoursethough they are eligible to receive compensation from the AFL by way of draft picks.
Collingwood’s Jordan De Goey is the most high-profile restricted free agent on the market, and is yet to re-sign with the Magpies.
Port Adelaide’s Karl Amon and Brisbane’s Dan McStay are examples of unrestricted free agents who will leave their clubs during this off-season.
What are some trades to look out for?
A hectic trade period is expected this year.
Young Melbourne ruck Luke Jackson has requested a trade back home to WA, and will most likely end up at Fremantle. But the Dockers could be set to lose a few players too, with Griffin Logue, Rory Lobb and Blake Acresamong others, likely to leave the club.
Brodie Grundy’s future at Collingwood is up in the air, while Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto are both hoping to leave GWS and join Richmond.
Junior Rioli has requested a trade from West Coast to Port Adelaide, and Izak Rankine is hoping to seal a big-money switch from Gold Coast to Adelaide.
Then there is Josh Dunkley, Jack Bowes, Jeremy Sharp, Ollie Henry, Bobby Hill, Billy Frampton, Darcy Tucker and no doubt many more, all of whom could find new homes by the end of the month.
When is the 2022 AFL draft?
The draft this year will be held over two nights again, on Monday, November 28 and Tuesday, November 29.
The pre-season and rookie drafts will be held the following day, on Wednesday, November 30.
Victorian midfielder Will Ashcroft is expected to be the first selection in this year’s draft, and will end up at the Brisbane Lions under the father-son rule — his dad Marcus played 318 games and won three flags with Brisbane.
Other players expected to be selected early include Harry Sheezel, Elijah Tsatas, Aaron Cadman and George Wardlaw.
North Melbourne currently has the first selection in the draft, followed by West Coast, GWS, Essendon and Adelaide but the draft order will almost certainly change the picks are traded over the coming weeks.