Greater Western Sydney is staring down another player “exodus”, with four expected to leave the club in the upcoming trade period, according to Nine reporter Sam McClure.
Tim Taranto, Jacob Hopper, Bobby Hill and Tanner Bruhn have all been floated as candidates to leave the Giants, but salary cap issues and a willingness from the club to “reset” amid a mini-rebuild should reportedly see all four leave.
Of the quartet, midfielders Taranto and Hopper are the most valuable. Richmond and Collingwood are among the Victorian clubs have shown interest in Taranto, while Adelaide, Richmond and Geelong have been linked to Hopper.
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Small forward Hill requested a trade to Essendon last year but is most likely to join the Magpies, while Bruhn is looking at a move back to Victoria, with the Cats thought to be keen on the Geelong Falcons product.
The issue for the Giants is how well compensated their big names are – partially due to the oft-mentioned ‘retention tax’ northern clubs end up paying to keep their stars.
Stephen Coniglio, Josh Kelly, Toby Greene and Lachie Whitfield combined to take up “the best part” of the Giants’ $4 million $13.5 million salary cap, according to McClure.
Add in Taranto and Hopper if they are re-signed, and defend Nick Haynes who is on a back-loaded contract, and an estimated $6.5 million – nearly half of the team’s cap – is already gone.
“There’s another player exodus. We’ve been here before with the Giants,” McClure said on 3AW’s Sportsday.
“I’ve already talked about Tim Taranto, I think that he won’t be there next year. Jacob Hopper you can now put in that same situation, I believe he will leave GWS this trade period with one year left on his deal. And Bobby Hill and Tanner Bruhn I think will both join them out the exit door.
“This is once again salary cap based. We talk a lot about the Giants and the fact they pay their four highest-paid players the best part of $4 million per season – Coniglio, Kelly, Greene and Whitfield. Who are all stars.
“And Nick Haynes … he’s coming to the last two years of a heavily back-ended contract.
“When you add him in, and Taranto and Hopper – if they were all playing in the same side next year, they’d be taking up $6.5 million from the Giants’ $13 million salary cap. That’s half.
“That’s not as much of an issue if you’re top four, if you’re playing in prelims, you’re contending for flags. But in what Matthew Lloyd believes to be a bottom four side at the moment, it of course is going to be an issue.”
Taranto, who is out of contract but not a free agent until 2024, and Hopper would both be worth first-round picks in return according to Brownlow medalist Gerard Healy.
While Taranto isn’t desperate to leave, the Giants believe trading him and Hopper and getting high picks back for them could be healthy for their future.
“One (reason they would trade him) is about cash, one is about seeing this change in coach, potential change in assistant coaches and then the football department, as the chance of a mini-reset,” McClure explained.
“And by trading out Taranto and Hopper, they believe they have the depth of the (players like) Tom Green, Finn Callaghan, Xavier O’Halloran, Lachie Ash, they can make up for those and for those players in their prime, cash in on their trade value.
“If I’m Collingwood, I’m trying to package up my first-round pick this year to get both Hill and Taranto through the door.
“Taranto and Hopper would free up, let’s call it $1.5 million. Hill and Bruhn add a little bit to that so let’s call it $2 million.”
The Magpies’ first-round pick currently sits at pick 14, while Richmond (pick 11), Geelong (pick 18) and Adelaide (pick 3) also own their natural first-rounders.
GWS has “definite interest” in Collingwood ruckman Brodie Grundy but not at his $1 million salary, and would only want to trade for him if the Magpies would pay some of it.
Grundy does not want to leave Victoria which makes it much less likely he would be involved in a player-driven deal with the Giants.
Jordan De Goey is more likely to leave the Magpies, with the Cats reportedly confirming their interest in the mid-forward.
Collingwood believes Geelong and St Kilda have already met with De Goey.