Emerging Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe is likely to become the club's highest-paid player in a three-year deal to be announced today - believed to be worth $2.5 million - which ties him to the Dockers until the end of the 2017 season.
The 22-year-old will end months of speculation about his future with the announcement, which is expected to clear the way for more high-profile re-signings.
The West Australian understands Fyfe did not show any interest in leaving Fremantle and did not hold official talks with other clubs. But that did not stop at least one club making a Lance Franklin-style offer to his management in a bid to loosen the Dockers' grip on one of the AFL's hottest properties.
The West Australian believes an informal approach by Greater Western Sydney, who were willing to pay more than $1 million a year for up to seven years, was not entertained by Fyfe and his management.
The contract with Fremantle will be sweetened by up to $100,000 in additional deals and ambassadorial roles outside of the club's salary cap.
In a statement released by the club this morning, Fyfe said the support of the Fremantle fans was phenomenal and a factor in his decision to re-sign with the club.
“The decision to stay with the club was just a matter of time really,” he said.
“I’ve really enjoyed playing with Freo and I’m from WA. Ultimately, the best fit for me was to stay here in Freo.”
“I’ve had a lot of people come up to me in the street and say ‘I hope you stay with Freo’ and ‘I enjoy watching you play footy’.
“The support from the fans all the way through my career has been phenomenal.
“I really do feel like I’m a product of them and I love giving back to them.
“The best way I can repay some of that is by playing good footy for Freo in the next couple of years.”
June 25, 2014
June 25, 2014
The sealing of the Fyfe deal will enable the Dockers hierarchy to focus on a fresh contract for fellow midfielder David Mundy, who is due to play his 200th game in Saturday's western derby.
Mundy has been content to follow his previous contract pattern of leaving talks on hold until the end of the season until now, although it is believed the club and Mundy were close to coming to terms over a week ago.
The three-year term of the Fyfe deal is significant because it will take him to the point of restricted free agency. If he holds or improves his current level of performance he could be at the top of rival clubs' hit lists when next out of contract.
But it is equally significant for Fremantle, putting them in the box seat to make Fyfe a one-club player. Under restricted free agency rules, the Dockers would only lose Fyfe if they chose not to match a rival club's offer for him when he next comes out of contract.
And the Dockers should be in a strong position at that point to match any offer. They are likely to lose veteran trio Luke McPharlin, Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands at various points over the next three seasons, freeing up salary cap money to retain a player of Fyfe's calibre.
The deal was thrashed out in less than 48 hours by Fyfe's manager Jason Dover, of Stride Sports, and Fremantle list and contracts manager Brad Lloyd late last week. Fyfe's commitment to Fremantle and the probability that Mundy will follow suit would place the pair among the frontrunners to succeed Pavlich as captain.
The 190cm Fyfe has taken the AFL by storm since his 2010 debut. With the 192cm Mundy, the 191cm Michael Barlow and the 190cm Ryan Crowley, the Dockers have forged one of the best engine rooms in the AFL, reshaping the league's landscape.
Fyfe won his first Doig Medal as club champion last year and was unlucky to miss the award in just his second season in 2011 when he finished second to Pavlich. His form has been stellar again in 2014, running up 298 disposals in 11 games at an average of better than 26 per match.