Free agency could bite the Western Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs have a league-high five unsigned free agents to negotiate with in the off-season.
Premiership ruckman Jordan Roughead and father-son Mitch Wallis are both restricted free agents, while injured onballers Tom Liberatore and Luke Dahlhaus, as well as veteran defender Dale Morris, are unrestricted free agents.
“We’re almost like the extreme from a free agency point of view,” Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.
“I don’t think any club has had five free agents, I might be wrong, so that has its own challenges, because it means there’s some uncertainty from a list management point of view around [salary] cap and there’s others that need to be contracted that might have to wait.”
The Bulldogs have been in constant dialogue throughout the season with the free agents and their managers.
However, Beveridge does not expect much further progress until the end of the season.
“It is a challenge, but that’s the AFL world that we live in now,” he said.
“I think we’re managing it quite well, having regular meetings with player managers and I’m having meetings with the players themselves.
“It will take a little while for it all to work itself out at the end of the year. Informally, once the season is over for us, we might ask for a stronger indication and that’ll help us make some decisions.”
Beveridge understands the nature of free agency in that a player can freely move if provided a better contract or opportunity from an opposition club.
Should a player decide to leave, Beveridge has reassured the Bulldogs fans that their club will be compensated by the AFL.
“It’s hard to work out at times what the values are, but the AFL will do that,” he said.
“So as long as that’s consistent from year to year, if that’s the circumstance we find ourselves in, you’ve always got to look on the bright side, especially if you lose someone as valuable as one of our free agents, but I’ve got faith that the AFL will duly compensate us if that actually happens.”