Essendon has an unprecedented amount of cap space this off-season to spend on the trade and free agency market.
Plus an ex-Bomber and Irish star could make a shock AFL return.
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BOMBERS PLAN TO BE AGGRESIVE WITH $3M CAP SPACE
The cashed-up Bombers have an unprecedented $3 million in cap space this off-season and plan to be aggressive on the trade and free agency market, reports the Herald Sun.
It comes amid a tumultuous period for the embattled Tullamarine-based club as the Bombers begin their search for a new coach, CEO and several board members after a drastic shake-up following the club’s seven-win season.
However Essendon’s under-pressure list boss Adrian Dodoro’s position is safe for now and he’s preparing to lead the club over the off-season and use its ample salary cap space.
The report states the departures of Joe Daniher, Orazio Fantasia and Adam Saad two years ago cleared in excess of $1.5 million in cap space, while the recent retirements to Anthony McDonald Tipungwuti and Devon Smith spared even more funds.
It’s believed no player at the club is on more than $800,000 per season to provide sufficient flexibility for 2023.
It comes after Essendon launched a massive $800,000 per-season-deal for Suns young gun Izak Rankine, who’s now headed for the Adelaide Crows, while the Bombers are also eying a key forward.
Of players currently on the list, Bombers skipper Dyson Heppell’s future at the club is uncertain as he weighs up a one-year extension amid a link to the Gold Coast Suns, and rivals are circling Aaron Francis and Nick Bryan.
The 30-year old Heppell told 7 News he’ll make a call on his future in the coming weeks.
“I’ll weigh things up over the next few weeks,“ Heppell said. ”But getting closer — the club’s been awesome.
“Not far off … We’ll get to a decision very soon.”
MCKENNA EYEING SHOCK AFL RETURN
Former Bomber and Irish star Conor McKenna is reportedly considering a shock return to the AFL next season.
It’s believed McKenna told his current Gaelic club Tyrone over the weekend of his plans to quit the team and return to Australia for the 2023 season.
AFL Media’s Callum Twomey reports Geelong is among several AFL clubs interested in the speedster.
McKenna departed the Bombers at the end of 2020 on good terms after 79 games from 2015-2020 despite being contracted for 2021 to return to Ireland and resume his Gaelic football career.
“I will always be grateful for Essendon‘s support of both myself and my family since I arrived at the club from the other side of the world at the end of 2014,” he said at the time.
“I will miss my teammates and coaches and I want to thank the Bomber fans for their support across the journey too. I will always wish the boys well and hope they see success in the not too distant future”.
The 26-year old tweeted in September last year: “Any AFL clubs need a half back?”
He starred with two goals in last year’s All-Ireland Senior Football Champion win over Kerry.