“Everyone’s got their own circumstances, but we’d be silly not be creative in our thinking in order to keep a good player like Tim Kelly.”
West Coast, Fremantle and the Cats remain in a three-way tug of war for him but Geelong remain confident that their creative 1+1-year proposal will be enough to retain the mature-aged recruit.
While the club would and has offered Kelly a longer term contract, it’s understood that initial offer didn’t sit well with the player, as he continues to wrestle with the prospect of returning to his home state and managing his family’s expectations.
But a savvy Geelong list management team has come back with a new deal.
The Cats’ current proposal would see Kelly stay a Cat in 2020, be extremely well paid and have the option of moving to one of the West Australian clubs at the end of the year if he’s still homesick.
That situation would still see Geelong demand two first round draft picks for a 25-year-old in the peak of his powers.
If he gets to the end of 2020 and wants to remain at Geelong, he could trigger another year on his contract worth the same or potentially even more than he earned in that season.
Hawkins is contracted until the end of 2020 and Selwood 2021, with both of those deals believed to be back-ended, giving the Cats further breathing room in their total player payments and the ability to offer Kelly more to stay beyond 2020.
It’s an incredible turn of events for Kelly, who polled 13 Brownlow votes and finished equal runner-up in Geelong’s best and fairest in his debut AFL season and, has averaged 24 disposals and five clearances in his 35 games.
His deal would be entering new territory for the AFL, who haven’t seen a player of Kelly’s experience offered this much money since Tom Boyd, whose situation was different given he was offered a mammoth deal to leave Greater Western Sydney and join the Bulldogs.
In a recent radio interview, Kelly refused to be drawn into speculation surrounding his future, saying “it’s all up in the air at the moment.”
Kelly and his Perth-based manager Anthony Van Der Wielen are unlikely to give Geelong an answer any time soon and the saga looks destined to conclude in the trade period, 12 months after Kelly was denied a move to the Eagles.
The one year deal with an option for a second is, in principle, similar to his Giants’ namesake Josh Kelly, who recently inked a two year deal with a six year option to stay in Western Sydney.
Sam McClure won the Clinton Grybas rising star award at the AFL media association awards in 2015.