Seismic pressure: Will Giants let Cameron slide in draft?
Greater Western Sydney could risk losing Jeremy Cameron for nothing in the draft if the Giants stand on their heels in demanding a suitable trade with Geelong.
The Giants want to strike a deal for Cameron in a trade with Geelong and will either demand a quality young senior player or multiple early draft picks.
But the Cats have no plans to trade for Cameron and instead believe pick No. 10 as free agency compensation is adequate under the AFL's rules.
It means Cameron, 27, faces a nervous wait over the next fortnight as the two clubs prepare for talks over the deal.
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If the two clubs can't agree on the free agency transfer or a trade deal, Cameron would be forced to enter the pre-season draft to find his way to Geelong in a move which could raise the ire of the AFL Players' Association.
It would be a strong stance from GWS to let Cameron go for nothing in the draft but Gold Coast did similar last year over Jack Martin (Carlton) to make a strong stance on a string of player departures.
The Giants have lost Cameron and Zac Williams (Carlton), Jackson Hately (Adelaide) and are still trying to re-sign Jye Caldwell and Xavier O'Halloran in the face of interest from St Kilda and Essendon.
Cameron has given excellent service to the Giants over nine years and has been widely considered one of the top few key forwards in the game over the duration of his 171-game career despite falling out of form this season.
But it remains unlikely at this stage that the Giants will do Cameron any favours and grant an easy passage for him to the Cats for a single free agency compensation pick after his decision to walk out on the club for family and lifestyle reasons.
The Giants will bank on the Cats' excellent record of completing player trades, which included sending premiership champion Steve Johnson to the Giants for a fifth-round pick the Cats were never going to use in 2016.
Geelong previously struck a trade deal to land free agent Patrick Dangerfield in 2015 and GWS is adamant it is intent on going down the same trade path with Cameron.
But the difference in the Dangerfield scenario was Geelong had an earlier pick (No. 9) than the direct compensation pick (No. 13) would have been for Adelaide.
In the Cameron situation Geelong's three first-round picks (No. 11, No. 15 and No. 17 or 18) all come after the compensation pick (No. 10).
It means GWS will want the Cats to package up some of their late first-round selections for an earlier choice inside the top-10 if the Cats can't also produce a senior player in a trade deal.
Gold Coast has shown a willingness to part with pick No. 5 which the Giants would likely accept for Cameron.
Under that scenario, the Suns could ask the Cats for two of their later choices in the first round and then use one of them to try and again tempt Adam Treloar out of Collingwood.
WHAT HAPPENS IF GIANTS MATCH CATS' CAMERON BID?
Cameron, 27, told Giants' coach Leon Cameron late Monday he wanted to continue his career at the Cats in 2021, where he will partner gun spearhead Tom Hawkins in attack.
But GWS has already indicated it is prepared to match the Cats' free agency bid in an attempt to secure two first-round picks from Geelong in a trade for Cameron.
If the Giants don't match they have to accept pick No. 10 as free agency compensation, which is widely seen as an underwhelming return for one of the best key forwards in the game.
Giants' chief executive Dave Matthews said the club wanted a decent return for Cameron's departure.
"The ball is in Geelong's court to see whether they can satisfy us with a trade," Matthews said last night.
"(Adam) Treloar and (Dylan) Shiel were worth two first-round draft picks, and they are both very good players.
"Key forwards are hard to find."
Cameron's manager Alex McDonald said the Cats were the perfect fit for Cameron at this point in his life.
"He loves the Giants and he's been wrestling with this for some time, but it's a family-based decision," McDonald said on SEN.
"With his partner Indie, he's been thinking about it for a while, to be honest. They've been thinking about what the future looks like for them as a couple, but the short-term focus for Jeremy was more around his own family.
"He went up there (Sydney) as a 17-year-old, he's been up there for 10 years and the opportunity for him to come back and be back closer to family and friends in Victoria - you don't know whether that chance will present itself again any time soon.
"He was humbled. He obviously had plenty of interest and I won't go into the other parties out of respect for them. There's a lot of great football clubs out there, but this one lined up beautifully with the family and the off-field lifestyle and he's very much an outdoors person.
"All of those things combined, along with the fact the Cats are a very consistent and stable footy club, meant it lined up. It was the right time for him in the end.
"He understands there's still a process and still lots to work through, but he's nominated the Cats."
It is a huge coup for Geelong and another massive endorsement of the club's culture and list management strategy as the Cats attempt to pull off their fourth premiership in 14 years against Richmond in Saturday's Grand Final.
But the recruiting raid is not yet complete as the Cats are expected to land North Melbourne star midfield-forward Shaun Higgins and are also circling Adelaide onballer Brad Crouch.
The arrival of Cameron and Higgins would ensure the Cats had one of the most formidable and potent attacking setups in the league next season.
Geelong has been chasing Cameron, who is from Dartmoor in Victoria' far west, for the past two seasons as Hawkins' long-term successor.
While Cameron has made clear he has enjoyed his nine years and 171 games in Sydney, the laid-back lifestyle in Geelong and proximity to his and his partner's family was known to be big factors in his decision.
GWS Giants list manager Jason McCartney said the club would work to get the best outcome for the club in exchange for its nine-time leading goal kicker.
"We are disappointed to hear the news that Jeremy Cameron wants to continue his career his career at the Cats," McCartney told the Herald Sun.
"But he is a restricted free agent and the club will consider all options available to it."
The Giants tried hard to keep Cameron, saying the club offered him a "suitable deal" believed to be worth about $750,000 a season over five years.
The Giants will now consider whether to accept pick No. 10 as free agency compensation or force Geelong to give up more in a trade for the two-time All-Australian and best-and-fairest winner.
The Cats have three first-round draft picks and could also nab pick No. 7 from Fremantle for the potential loss of gun young defender Jordan Clark.
Geelong is able to fit Cameron into its salary cap largely because of the loss of star midfielder Tim Kelly to West Coast last year.
Geelong budgeted to pay Kelly about $800,000 a year and will now hand that money to Cameron, although salary was not seen as the main factor in his decision.
Spearhead Hawkins is also set to receive a reduced deal for next year, while veteran Harry Taylor is weighing up retirement and Gary Ablett will play his last game in Saturday's premiership decider, creating more space for the Cats.
Cameron is widely considered one of the most damaging forwards in the game after taking out last year's Coleman Medal with an average three goals a game.
But the mobile goal kicker endured a tough form slump this year kicking only 24 majors for the year from an average 10 possessions per game.
It was on that basis that the Giants made a strong stance in contract talks with Cameron and did not want to overpay, after handing out blockbuster long-term deals for superstar midfielders Stephen Coniglio, Lachie Whitfield and Josh Kelly in recent years.
Collingwood was circling Cameron but is expected to miss out on his signature after Cameron nominated Geelong as his preferred new home.
The Magpies are sweating on Jordan De Goey's signature on a new deal as contract talks drag out.
Originally published as Seismic pressure: Will Giants let Cameron slide in draft?