Essendon have needed less than one day of AFL free agency to snare St Kilda life member Brendon Goddard.
The 27-year-old 205-gamer had been considered the Saints’ likely next captain and was made a life member of the club just a few weeks ago.
But the Saints, who had 72 hours under free agency rules to match a four-year Bombers offer believed to be worth more than $700,000 per season, declined on the same day.
The other player to find a new club on free agency’s opening day was Adelaide forward-midfielder Chris Knights, who joined Richmond.
The Tigers have also submitted a long-term offer for Port Adelaide defender Troy Chaplin while Fremantle have lodged a bid for Power midfield speedster Danyle Pearce.
The Power are still weighing up whether to match either or both of those offers, in which case the players would be forced into the trade market or draft to leave Port.
The Saints could have forced Goddard down that path.
But they wouldn’t budge on their three-year offer of about $600,000 per season, saying they had wanted to keep Goddard but not at the expense of their overall pay structure.
“While we are disappointed at his decision to leave the Saints, we are absolutely committed to our team-first philosophy in relation to player contracts,” Saints head of football Chris Pelchen said.
Goddard’s manager Dan Richardson suggested salary cap constraints were a factor.
He said while there were other suitors, a meeting between Goddard and Essendon coach James Hird convinced the player he could help the Bombers and they could make him a better footballer.
The Saints’ draft compensation will be determined at the end of the free agency period, but is expected to be a first round pick.
It depends, though, on whether St Kilda use free agency to snare players from elsewhere, a likely prospect given their new salary cap space.
“We’ll certainly be exploring the free agency window but we were doing that prior to today anyway,” Pelchen said.
Along with Pearce and Chaplin, Port’s Steven Salopek and Jacob Surjan are seeking new clubs under free agency, while David Rodan will explore trade options.
West Coast’s Quinten Lynch, Melbourne’s Brent Moloney and Jared Rivers and Geelong’s Shannon Byrnes are among other players exploring free agency options.
Adelaide are still waiting to hear whether star forward Kurt Tippett wants out, although he will have to wait for the trade period, which starts next week.
So will Collingwood’s Sharrod Wellingham, who is weighing up whether to stay a Magpie or return to his native Western Australia with either West Coast or Fremantle.