Year of Bargain: 12 AFL Player Clubs Recruited For Little To Nothing – And Become Major Members

There have never been more opportunities to add a player to an AFL club list, whether through draws, trades or free agency.

And it’s hard to imagine a season where so many players raised for little to no seed money last year had such an impact on their respective teams.

Maybe the number 1 contender in this category Tyson Stenglewho has gone from the fired Crow to one of Geelong’s top All-Australian contenders in just over 12 months.

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Originally taken as a rookie by Richmond in late 2016, Stengle played just two games for the Tigers before being traded to Adelaide, where he played 12 games into the 2020 hub season. But after a series of off-field incidents, the Crows sacked Stengle. .

However, several AFL clubs saw something in Stengle throughout the 2021 campaign. He produced an outstanding SANFL season with prime ministers Woodville-West Torrens, scoring 44 goals from 19 games. Geelong eventually collapsed, signing the little forward as a delisted free agent in November last year.

And Stengle has rewarded the Cats’ faith, scoring 29 goals from 14 games so far this season, and confidently pushing an already stacked Cats forward line. Only Charlie Cameron has scored more goals as a minor striker in 2022 so far.

Tyson Stengle of the Cats has kicked 29 goals. Photo: Martin KeepSource: Getty Images

But it was Stengle’s ability to set up teammates to score that was just as important, being among the league’s top players for efficiency going within 50 and third to Geelong for scoring commitment.

As Kangaroo David King’s Dual Premiership Explained on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 earlier this month, Stengle could become the first expunged free agent to be an All-Australian.

Asked if he was surprised by Stengle’s big game impact in his first year at the club, Cat’s teammate Jed Bews told on Saturday: “Unfortunately for me, I was allowed to play the whole preparation for him. So while I’m a bit surprised, you could see at the same time that he would be good. He grabbed his chance with both hands and has been great. He’s getting better and better, it’s exciting.”

Sydney’s Paddy McCartin is also a real contender for a bargain of the year – and a real feel-good story.

After being selected with the 2014 national draft first-choice, McCartin had a five-season spell at St Kilda that was hampered by eight concussions, which limited him to just 35 games and 34 goals.

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McCartin then spent two seasons on the sidelines before earning a spot on the Swans’ VFL roster for 2021. In January, he joined the Swans as an AFL rookie for the 2022 season through the pre-season supplementary selection period (SSP) .

Now not only is he an integral member of a backline helping the Swans aspire to premiership, he’s also in the All-Australian mix.

McCartin ranks first in the league for interception marks to date (3.6), third in top defense loss percentages (10%) and eighth for interception possession (7.9).

Speak with Fox Footy’s Best on the ground after his thrilling victory over Melbourne at the MCG, McCartin said: “I’m a little speechless to be honest. I had a good way back to come back and play. The goal was to come back and play in these kinds of games. Winning and beating Melbourne and doing it with my brother on the ‘G – it’s pretty crazy.”

Will Brodie of the Dockers. Photo: Daniel CarsonSource: Getty Images

You could argue Will Brodie also falls into this category. Even though he was part of a salary dump trade where the first and second round picks switched hands in the Dockers-Suns deal, Fremantle essentially won Brodie and, it seems, turned a pick in the 1930s into a one this year. start -of the second round 2021 roster, in which they drew local weapon Matthew Johnson. So you could say the Dockers got Brodie for nothing.

A top-10 pick with the Suns but playing just 25 games in five seasons, Brodie has been outstanding for the Dockers since he headed west and stepped into an exciting on-ball unit with confidence. He ranks first at the club for average disputed assets (13.5) and evictions (6.3), second for divestments (27.9), third for within 50s (3.9) and fourth for score engagement (5.6).

“Will Brodie, he’s recruit of the year,” Dockers legend Matthew Pavlich said: earlier this month.

“It’s hard to believe that a good squad from the Gold Coast Suns, who have barely played a game, are now one of the elite midfielders, at least this year, in the competition after 12 rounds.”

The Blues were also big bargain winners.

In the only restricted free move last year, Carlton grabbed ex-Swan George Hewett, who is confidently placed in Michael Voss’ brutal, competition-heavy squad. Hewett is having the best season of his career, averaging 29.4 sales, 13.5 contested possessions, 6.6 clearances and 4.5 tackles – all second to the club in 2022.

George Hewett is thriving with the Blues. Photo: Quinn RooneySource: FOX SPORTS

And while a three-way trade saw them lose Sam Petrevski-Seton on the West Coast, the Blues bounced back Lewis Young of the Western Bulldogs. Following Liam Jones’ retirement and several injuries to key defenders, Young’s takeover was a masterstroke, with the 23-year-old playing 11 games and finishing third in the league for loot (9.1) and second to the Blues for intercept marks. and intercept possessions.

The Suns have also benefited from two smart acquisitions: Ex-Tiger Mabior Cholic (unlimited free agent) and ex-Blue Levi Casboult (beginner).

After club leader Ben King fell with an ACL injury in 2021, Chol and Casboult were asked to perform. As a result, they have become two of Gold Coast’s most important players within 50, at the top of the club’s goal kick – Chol has 30 goals and Casboult has 26 – while also helping co-captain Jarrod Witts by squeezing the ruck.

like chol, Tim O’Brien was recruited as an unrestricted free agent by the Bulldogs. The ex-Hawk gets better with every game he plays and ranks first among the Dogs for interception marks (2.5), second for points (6.3) and loot (5.8) and third for interceptions (5 ,5).

And just like Casboult, ex-kangaroo Trent Dumont was taken in last year’s rookie draft and came in handy for the Power off a wing, playing eight games and averaging 16.3 disposals.

Bombers fans love Nic Martin’s season. Photo: Will RussellSource: Getty Images

The SSP has also proved useful for other clubs.

nic martin – the nominated Round 1 Rising star – was a revelation for Essendon in a difficult season, scoring 15 goals (ranked 2nd in the Bombers) and an average of 6.5 goals (2nd), 6.3 points (2nd) and 20, 4 divestments (7th). Patrick Naishwho spent four seasons on the Tigers’ list, was the only Eagle to make the first 11 games of the West Coast’s 2022 campaign amid its injury and Covid horror streak, while St Kilda’s Jack Hayes was outstanding in his first four games before suffering an ACL break in his fifth against the Giants.

Of course, there have been – and always will be – a few misses in this space, such as Hugh Greenwood who arguably didn’t have the same impact on the kangaroos as most from the outside expected.

But overall, the 2021 off-season has been a big hit for many recruiters so far — and they haven’t had to forgo the process much.

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