Collingwood star Brodie Grundy’s future at the club hangs in the balance, with a possibility the injured ruckman has played his last game in black and white.
The Magpies are considering offloading Grundy’s lucrative salary — worth around $1 million per season until 2027 — to clear cap space for rival targets including Dan McStay, Bobby Hill, Tim Taranto and Billy Frampton, with a link to the latter big man certainly adding more weight to the prospect of Grundy departing the AIA Centre.
Furthermore Collingwood is still hoping to re-sign free agent Jordan De Goey despite withdrawing its $3.2 million offer to the gun midfielder-forward after his Bali exploits.
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It comes as the Pies have soared back into the top four this season without their dual All-Australian ruckman for the most part, including a remarkable 11-game winning streak, to further fuel speculation around his future.
Grundy was struck down with a PCL injury on Anzac Day before an ankle setback ended his campaign. The Pies have gone 13-3 in Grundy’s absence, with Darcy Cameron shouldering the ruck load in a breakout season.
Of course, Grundy would need to be acquired via trade, and his big-money $1 million per season price tag complicates any deal — especially given the 28-year old has struggled to replicate his previous best form. However reports suggest the Pies are willing to chip in $300,000 of his salary.
It’s also worth noting that the big man would need to agree to any trade and is reportedly well settled in Melbourne, while thus far his preference has been to remain at Collingwood — and there’s not many other clubs he’d rather be playing for right now.
Foxfooty.com.au breaks down the state of play of the contenders for Grundy’s services ahead of what shapes as a blockbuster negotiation in the trade period.
Grundy was “blown away” by the Demons when he met with key figures at the club earlier this month, according to SEN’s Sam Edmund, as one of two clubs his camp has been reported to have met with along with the Giants.
It’s seen Melbourne emerge as the frontrunner for the star big man as young ruckman Luke Jackson is expected to request a trade away from the club at season’s end to return to Western Australia and join Fremantle.
Although Melbourne reportedly doesn’t necessarily view Grundy as a priority and could target a younger, cheaper option, Demons coach Simon Goodwin has said the club is keen to play with two rucks next year.
Jackson’s departure clearly holds the key to the Demons’ pursuit of Grundy and what Melbourne could get back from Fremantle in a trade. This is factoring in Melbourne’s first draft pick — currently the Swans’ Pick 17 tied to the Dees — may not be enough to entice the Pies in a trade — whereas the Dockers hold Pick 14.
Pending on how the Pies’ pursuits of their other targets go, Melbourne’s frequently used medical sub Toby Beford (not that it’d let him go lightly) as well as Adam Tomlinson and Sam Weideman are other names that could interest Collingwood.
Certainly from Grundy’s perspective, if Collingwood did indeed decide to trade him, there’s not many, if any, better landing spots for him than the current reigning premiers while staying in Melbourne.
However as supreme as a Max Gawn-Grundy combination — the best two ruckmen of the last decade — might look on paper, there remains a fair question mark over how they’d actually function together given both players are best served playing predominantly in the ruck.
“I can’t see it … I think it probably will happen the way this is all running. These are two of the elite ruckmen who thrive in the ruck,” broadcaster Gerard Whateley said on SEN earlier this month.
“I just don’t see how you coexist without blunting each other. They are both 85 per cent ruckman, and you play in the same team.
“I don’t think it will work, I don’t think either of them is a capable enough forward. (Gawn’s) not a natural forward to my eye, he never has been. He goes forward and can have an impact — and Grundy’s a little bit the same — but only for 15 per cent.
“I just think if you’ve got two 85 per cent ruckmen, bona fide A graders, I think they will curtail each other.”
The Cats joined Melbourne as a suitor for Grundy earlier this month, although Geelong‘s interest has gone much more under the radar until this week.
SEN’s Sam Edmund believes the premiership-favourite Cats could be gearing up for a massive trade period double heist of both Grundy and Giants gun Jacob Hopper.
While it’s hard to forecast how Geelong could possibly fit both stars into its salary cap for a team already loaded with stars, the Cats do have a knack of landing their targets.
Chris Scott’s side has long cried out for an elite-level ruckman, arguably dating back to the days of Brad Ottens, and Grundy would provide a fair upgrade on Rhys Stanley.
Collingwood would surely demand more than the Cats’ first pick in the draft — the 18th selection — but like Melbourne, Geelong certainly looms as an enticing landing spot for Grundy as a competitive side.
Could a package of Esava Ratugolea and Pick 18 entice the Pies? It’d shore up their key position stocks for the medium to short term along with the expected arrival of McStay — an area Collingwood has been thin — and give it flexibility with how to use both players next year.
Although Ollie Henry’s future at Collingwood is currently uncertain, the club could also ask the question of his brother, Jack, in a bid to pair them up, while Gryan Miers could be another target.
“I just wonder if the Cats might be orchestrating another stunning trade period, another anti-ageing jab if you like, as they define the equalisation process,” Edmund said on SEN.
“Jacob Hopper and Brodie Grundy are the two names that keep coming up at Geelong. It’s been hard to decipher how substantial that interest (in Grundy) is.
“But the ruck position has long been an itch they can’t scratch, and according to a couple of sources, they are right in the running here for Brodie Grundy.
“Could the Cats even back-end a Grundy deal, coinciding with the eventual retirements of Tom Hawkins, Joel Selwood, Isaac Smith and the like.
“I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the Cats could pull out another unbelievable swiftie and get them both in … watch this space, we’ll see what happens.”
Broadcaster Gerard Whateley added: “Imagine if they did that as the defending premier.”
Giants football boss Jason McCartney was seen meeting with Grundy’s manager last month, and along with Melbourne, is the club that’s been most linked to the ruckman.
It was also reported that the Pies could explore a “mega deal” with GWS given they’re circling Taranto, Hill and even Tanner Bruhn, which certainly gives the Giants’ bid more leverage and makes a trade between the two clubs more tangible.
Who says no to a Grundy for Taranto/Hill trade with a swap of picks potentially too favouring Collingwood?
And from a structural perspective, Grundy would be an ideal pick-up for the western Sydney-based club to head up its ruck division over the likes of Braydon Preuss, Matt Flynn and Kieren Briggs.
After all, Preuss came across seeking greater opportunity after previously backing up Max Gawn at Melbourne and Todd Goldstein at North Melbourne, yet barely proved able to cement a spot in the 22 during this most recent season.
Although there does remain a few key factors to consider.
Firstly — what does newly-appointed coach Adam Kingsley think of Grundy? He may be opposed to forking out big funds for a ruckman, even if the Pies are contributing to it, or a big fan of one of the aforementioned big men already on the list.
Then there’s the issue of the Giants’ salary cap pressure amid reports the club needs to clear in excess of $1 million from its books, with Jacob Hopper also linked to trades, having dished out big-money deals to their core of stars.
“For example, they’d (GWS) have to clear one of Taranto, Hopper and Bruhn, then they’d have to clear another expensive player — a Josh Kelly, Lachie Whitfield, Stephen Coniglio or Toby Greene — to have even a hope of taking on Grundy,” journalist Tom Browne said on Triple M earlier this month.
“That wouldn’t be an easy deal to get across the line, that’s not to say it wouldn’t happen.”
And, of course, there’s the unknown of whether Grundy would be willing to move to Sydney to join a club in the midst of a reset.
The Hawks this week emerged as a contender for Grundy — a logical new link and landing spot following skipper and long-time ruckman Ben McEvoy’s retirement.
“A lot of talk about GWS and Melbourne. You can add Hawthorn to the list there as being interested in Brodie Grundy,” RSN’s Mark Stevens said.
“I‘m surprised it’s taken this long for that to pop up considering (Ben) McEvoy’s retired.”
It’s not known how serious Hawthorn’s interest is in Grundy at this stage. But with Ned Reeves and Max Lynch (who ironically departed Collingwood in a bid for more senior opportunities away from Grundy) occupying their ruck stocks, it’s a move that makes sense for Sam Mitchell’s side despite the 28-year old being right on the edge of the age demographic of players it’d be targeting.
If nothing else, it makes the Hawks significantly stronger through the midfield in the short to medium term and would help with the development of their emerging on-ballers.
The Hawks also hold the best draft capital of all the reported Grundy suitors including Pick 6 in the upcoming draft, a selection that could seriously interest the Pies if a high pick is what they’re targeting. But would the Hawks be willing to part with the prized selection when it’s in the midst of a rebuild?
Moving to Hawthorn would also allow Grundy to stay in Victoria, although he’d join a club that’s in a development phase and thus doesn’t make a lot of sense on his end unless he’s really bullish about its direction and future under Mitchell.
Of course, if Collingwood decided to go chips in on trying to win another flag with its current list, Luke Breust and Jack Gunston would be ideal targets to bolster its forward line, having previously been linked to the latter.
Asked about the potential for Hawthorn to recruit Grundy, club CEO Justin Reeves told SEN earlier this month: “That’s one for Mark McKenzie (list manager). I know that’s a cop out but the reality is there are so many variables in that.
“He’s probably got plenty of footy left in him, I don’t know the figures of his contract but what we should say is you look at every opportunity that you think would make your football club better.”
The Power are interested in Grundy and were in the mix for his services when he considered a move back to South Australia in 2019.
But like Hawthorn, the Power’s link to Grundy hasn’t built any significant momentum yet, so consider them more of a wildcard for now.
Although the Pies ruckman’s link to SA does add some intrigue to the Power as a destination, reporter Tom Browne noted Port “don’t see” Grundy leaving Victoria.
It comes as the Scott Lycett, who turns 30 next month, is coming into the twilight of his career, not that Grundy is that much younger, plus the Power have emerging big men Sam Hayes, Brynn Teakle and Dante Visentini already on their list.
And, of course, Ken Hinkley’s side played its best footy this year after Lycett was struck down with injury — using key forward pair Jeremy Finlayson and Charlie as makeshift options — to raise queries over the value of a ruckman.
You sense that Port would’ve been more keen on Grundy a few years ago, but at the same time, this is a club that will be exploring all avenues to bounce back from its drop out of the finals in 2022.
Port’s first selection is Pick 8, which is probably right around fair value for the dual All-Australian at this stage of his career, while it could also dangle the aforementioned rucks.
Todd Marshall would’ve been a dream pick-up for the Pies in preceding years, but would now be an untouchable, while Mitch Georgiades could be gettable.