RORY Sloane is to become the AFL’s first million-dollar player in Adelaide — or the latest millionaire in his hometown of Melbourne in 2019.
Sloane, 27, and Gold Coast key forward Tom Lynch are to be the AFL’s most sought-after free agents next year.
And Sloane’s ability to command a million-dollar salary — while falling out of contract as AFL clubs adjust to the players’ richest collective bargaining deal ($1.84 billion) — will again test the Adelaide Football Club’s strict pay scale at West Lakes.
It also will challenge the Crows to avoid salary cap pressure while needing to re-sign All-Australian defender Rory Laird, All-Australian midfielder Matt Crouch, injured free-agent defender Brodie Smith and linkman forward Tom Lynch.
Already Lynch, who is keen to immediately start contract talks at West Lakes, is on hold as the Crows work through the demands on next year’s $12.548 million salary cap.
Sloane will draw comparisons with Brownlow Medallist Dustin Martin’s protracted free-agency play this season. While Martin did not accept North Melbourne’s seven-year, $10 million offer, he did significantly increase his salary at Richmond to join the AFL’s millionaire club at $1.1 million a season.
Sloane is in the same position. And after this year’s grand final loss to the underdogs Tigers reaffirmed there is no guarantee in football, Sloane has noted he is now holding a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with his off-field cards.
Sloane would command more than $1 million a season in a bidding race between St Kilda and Collingwood. The Saints in 2015 considered a major play for Sloane. The Magpies have spent this off-season recalibrating their salary cap to be better placed to bid for Sloane who was managed by Collingwood’s new list manager, Ned Guy.
Sloane’s value in the free-agency market puts the Crows vice-captain in a prime position to become the first player in 28 years of AFL football in Adelaide to secure a million-dollar contract — and supersede the $900,000-a-season record paid to Kurt Tippett with his infamous last contract at West Lakes.
Sloane on Thursday tellingly opened the door to suitors in Melbourne where his wife Belinda is forging a television presenter’s career. Her future also will be critical in Sloane’s decision.
“Coming to the end of my career, you certainly have to look at what’s best for yourself,” Sloane said on Thursday during a round of interviews to promote next weekend’s AFL International Rules Series.
“It’s more than my future. It is a decision we (he and wife Belinda) will make as a family.”
In each of his three media interviews — with The Advertiser and two Adelaide-based radio stations — Sloane has stayed true to his longstanding theme of dealing for contracts on his terms and to his timeline.
“I’m not fussed — and I’m not going to be rushed; I’ve never worked to a timeline with my contracts,” Sloane told The Advertiser.
Adelaide knows this too well after trying to make Sloane a list-management priority in late June when captain Taylor Walker reworked his contract payments while extending his deal at West Lakes to the end of 2021.
Sloane is not concerned by the inevitable external attention his contract talks will generate — and he is quite capable of following Patrick Dangerfield and Martin in playing their best football while in their free-agency seasons.