WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The AFL will not be changing its rule on free agency to limit free agents to a maximum of five years from their contract year, a decision which would likely have the biggest impact on young stars such as Patrick Dangerfield and Jesse Hogan.
The AFL is considering changing its rules in the coming weeks to make sure that players like Dangerfield or Hogan are not signing contracts worth more than five years.
“If you’re a player with five years to your contract, you’re not going to be signing a long-term contract,” AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said in an interview.
“We’re not saying, ‘OK, let’s go out and sign a contract worth four or five years’.
We’re not trying to do that.
We’re saying we’re not giving a free agent a free contract.”
The AFL has already been forced to reconsider its current policy of limiting free agents, and is considering expanding its policy to include free agents who do not have the full five-year contract they signed with the team in which they signed.
The change would not impact players who were signed with another AFL club but later dropped out of the league or who had signed with other clubs but later switched to another club.
The NFL also has its own free agency rules, which limit free agent signings to two years.
It’s not clear if McLachlans policy will have the same impact in the NFL.
“The AFL’s rules are designed to give players the opportunity to work on their own deals and that’s what we’re doing,” McLachlin said.
“That’s what the AFL is trying to protect and try to make the game more fair.”
AFL players have played their share of free agency over the past two seasons, but not as many as the NFL has.
Players such as Dangerfield, who signed with Melbourne as a 17-year-old, have played in fewer games this season because of the shortened season.
Hogan, who was drafted with the No.6 pick by the Chicago Bears, signed with Fremantle in 2015 and has been limited to just one game.
He’s averaged four goals, four assists and four kick assists over the last five seasons.
“I think the AFL’s policy of keeping a cap on the number of free agents in a given year is a good one, but that’s not the only way to keep players in the game,” Hogan told reporters on Wednesday.
“There are so many other ways of making the game better, but we have to try to stay away from that one-size-fits-all model.”
McLachls comments come after the AFL Players’ Association announced it was drafting a new general manager, a role which will be given to a committee of union members.
It has been in negotiations with AFL owners since late March and is expected to make a final decision next week.
It is unclear whether the new general will be a player or a manager.
AFL commissioner Andrew Demetriou, a former senior executive at Fairfax Media, is in charge of the committee that will draft a new leader.
He is expected, along with McLachall and senior league figures, to make final decisions on the new leader at a meeting in late November or early December.
(Reporting by Julie Hirschfeld; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)