It shapes as one of the biggest, most complex deals of the trade period. But unfortunately for the Gold Coast Suns, it involves another one of their budding stars departing.
Foxfooty.com.au confirmed a report from the Herald Sun that Suns young gun Izak Rankine has been offered a five-year, $4 million deal from the Adelaide Crows as he considers a move back to South Australia.
Originally thought to be close to re-signing with Gold Coast, who are reportedly offering around a $650,000-a-season deal and won’t match Adelaide’s offer, the report states the 22-year old is highly likely to be playing at West Lakes in 2023 given the size of the offer.
Watch every blockbuster AFL match this weekend Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
NEW FOX FOOTY PODCAST — Six polarising finals contenders, latest trade whispers
Listen below or subscribe in Apple Podcasts or Spotify
However as Rankine isn’t a free agent, he’d need to be acquired via trade, setting the stage for one of the most fascinating negotiations between the Suns and Crows in some time.
Pick No. 3 in the 2018 draft, Rankine showed promising signs early in his career before really elevating his game in 2022 into the competition’s elite bracket.
Rankine has booted a career-best 27 goals from 16 games this season while averaging 13.6 disposals per game (both ranked above average as a general forward by Champion Data), and his 1.5 goal assists ranks fifth in the league (ranked elite).
What’s more, his 2.9 forward 50 ball gets rank first in the competition and his 10.6 AFL Player Rating ranks ninth (both elite). His 6.4 score involvements per game (elite) come in fifth in the league including three games in 2022 with 11 score involvements.
And from Rounds 8-15 Rankine was the No. 1 ranked general forward in the competition during a stretch where he ranked second in score assists.
“They signed probably six of their top eight players over the last six months and you just expected Izak will sign … then this comes in as a bit of a wildcard, so incredibly tough for the Gold Coast,” Roos legend David King said on SEN.
“Rankine is going to be a top liner. The ball’s not even kicked to him and his ability to hit the scoreboard is second to none.”
A potential future face of the Suns and just 46 games into his AFL career, Rankine’s upside is scary, and he’s clearly only going to keep getting better, thus complicating his trade value given he’s not yet the final product.
So what’s he worth in a deal right now and how might it look?
Adelaide currently holds Pick 4 in the draft — a pick that could yet get moved back also pending on where potential Pick 1 and father-son draftee Will Ashcroft lands.
You’d think Adelaide’s first pick would be the starting point to any trade, but surely the Suns would want more.
A second first-round pick from the Crows feels like overs, especially considering it’d likely again be a top five selection or thereabouts. Would the Suns accept a first and second rounder?
Looking at recent history, the Adam Cerra trade from last year is a fair comparison given he was also aged 22, an early draft pick (No. 5) and still coming into his prime but didn’t yet qualify for free agency.
The Dockers ultimately received Carlton’s Pick 6 as well as a future third rounder despite originally putting a bigger price on Cerra’s head — although Fremantle had other deals to get done including acquiring Jordan Clark.
Prior to that, Jaeger O’Meara moved from the Suns to Hawthorn at the end of 2016 when he was also aged 22 and rated as one of the best young talents in the game.
O’Meara, who joined Gold Coast with the No. 1 pick of a special ‘mini draft’ as part of its early concessions, only cost the Hawks Pick 10 and a future second rounder.
Then there was the original Adam Treloar (who was also 22) trade back in 2015 that saw the star midfielder along with Pick 28 move from GWS to Collingwood for Picks 7, 65 and a future first rounder.
Similar to O’Meara, Treloar was drafted by the Giants as an under-age selection.
But making Rankine’s situation slightly more unique is that he was a bona fide top three pick (and taken ahead of the likes of the King brothers, Connor Rozee and Bailey Smith in the highly-rated 2018 draft), and factoring in that the Suns have already lost so much young talent over the years to add a potential extra tax of sorts.
And losing too many young stars to rival clubs has seen Gold Coast already top up with a stack of early picks in recent years.
It held selections 5 (Mac Andrew) and 7 (Elijah Hollands) respectively over the last two drafts, 1 and 2 in the 2019 draft (Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson) and 2 and 3 the year prior (Jack Lukosius and Rankine).
So would the Suns really want or need more picks? Finals should be firmly on the agenda next year after the club has finally made inroads in 2022, currently sitting 11th on the ladder with nine wins and on track for its best ever season.
Port Adelaide legend Kane Cornes wasn’t yet convinced Rankine is going to be a “top liner,” but emphasised the Crows would have to give up something given he’s not a free agent — proposing a swap for Riley Thilthorpe or a package of Josh Rachele and Darcy Fogarty if draft picks don’t appease the Suns.
“Adelaide would hope that (Pick 4) gets it done, but Rankine was a Pick 3 four years ago and is probably better than what you’re going to take a put on with Pick 4 in this year’s draft, which probably goes to (Pick) 5 or 6, so that won’t get it done,” he said on SEN.
“They (the Suns) don’t want or need draft picks … is it Rachele and Fogarty or something like that for Rankine?
Of course, the Crows could dig their heels in if they can‘t meet Gold Coast’s demands and try and walk Rankine to the pre-season draft (and hope other clubs don’t pounce on him).
This happened in 2020 when Jack Martin joined Carlton in the 2019-pre-season draft after the Blues and Suns failed to reach a deal during the trade period.
King believes the Suns should take a stand and be willing to let Rankine walk for nothing if it comes to it.
“I just wonder if they would say, ‘you know what, we’re not going to do this deal, we’re going to take a stand. We’ve got enough first-round picks, future picks coming in, trade commodities to be able to shift if we want to go down that path. Let’s dig our heels in and say if you want to leave you can go to the draft’,” he said.
“Why not? Does it really rock their boat (losing him for nothing)? Do they say, ‘do we just draw a line in the sand?’ Because this is going to continue to happen if they allow it to happen.
“I think they’ll take a stance. I don‘t think they’ll say, ‘oh yeah, no worries, what do you (Adelaide) want to discard? You don’t think Rachele is going to be a top-liner? OK, give us Rachele.’ That’s of no value to them.”