Fremantle tagger Ryan Crowley has hit a stalemate over a contract extension despite an impressive season.
Crowley, who was resigned to moving home to Melbourne at the start of last season before new coach Ross Lyon offered him a lifeline, is at odds with the Dockers over a one-year deal.
The stalemate comes at a crucial time because the 28-year-old is eligible to take advantage of free agency rules which are being introduced to give long-serving players more chances to swap clubs.
He is deemed an unrestricted free agent who can automatically move to another club, after giving Fremantle eight years of service and not being in their top 25 per cent of highest-paid players.
Crowley lost 9kg in a gruelling pre-season and is now in the best form of his career.
His management group, Living Focused Sports, confirmed yesterday that a meeting with Fremantle player management general manager Brad Lloyd on Monday had left the matter unresolved, with further contract talks to be put on hold until the end of the season.
Crowley gained rave reviews for his stopping job on Richmond star Brett Deledio at the MCG last Saturday which helped pave the way for a surprise Dockers win that put their season back on track following a three-match losing run.
His tagging of Carlton captain Chris Judd in round five created headlines after Gold Coast skipper Gary Ablett used the social networking website Twitter to criticise his close-checking tactics.
"Ryan is having a cracking year and he's answered all his critics," a spokesman for the management company said.
"We approached Fremantle about a month ago about re-signing him for another year and they came up with an offer, but now we've come to the stage where we've got to put things on hold until they recognise the great year he's had.
"We'll just take it year by year with Ryan. He's dynamic, he puts the team first instead of his own game and at the same time, he's probably in career-best form.
"We just hope Fremantle recognise that and come to the party. If he keeps playing in the form he's in, we'll see what Freo come back with at the end of the year.
"The current offer doesn't reward the great season he's having. He deserves a little bit of an increase on what he's on."
A Fremantle spokesman said the club's policy was not to comment on contract negotiations.
Meanwhile, Living Focused Sports are hopeful Collingwood will soon agree to financial terms on a two-year extension for 2010 premiership midfielder Sharrod Wellingham.
The Perth product has overcome the groin soreness which hampered his finals series last year and also forced him to miss the first two games of this season.
He has been a key cog in the Pies' streak of eight consecutive wins and has had 20 or more possessions in four of his past five games.