Sydney Swans half-back turned winger Jordan Dawson has requested a trade back to his home state of South Australia after knocking back an extension to stay in New South Wales.
Dawson had a breakout season in 2021 and looked set to play a key role in the Sydney side’s premiership endeavors for the years ahead.
Both South Australian sides, Adelaide and Port Adelaide, will battle to win the prized signature of the young star.
While the Adelaide teams are in completely different contending positions at the moment, there’s also no telling where they could be in the next few seasons.
The Crows are on the rise after having to rebuild after their 2017 Grand Final loss to Richmond. Their list is young and adding Dawson will provide much needed extra quality.
It is also expected that the Crows, Dawson’s favourite team growing up, will be able to offer a more lucrative deal.
The Power offer an immediate premiership window opportunity, and whilst they believe they can still satisfy the financial demands of Dawson, their primary pull will be the potential for September glory.
What is the value of Jordan Dawson?
Jordan Dawson was selected by the Swans in the 2015 National Draft in the fourth round with pick 56. He was recruited from SANFL side Sturt, with his kicking ability being his primary skill attribute.
When drafted, Dawson was thought of as a medium forward by Swans list manager Kinnear Beatson.
“He has really strong hands overhead and has a booming left foot kick,” Beatson said in 2015.
Dawson played two full seasons in the NEAFL, both of which the Swans’ reserves finished as minor premiers and ultimately became runners-up by less than a goal.
He then made his AFL debut in a one-point loss to Collingwood in round three in 2017, the only AFL game he played that year.
Dawson became more involved late in 2018 when he played four of the remaining five home and away games for the Swans.
In 2019, Dawson was a regular in the Swans’ first team. Progressively improving with each game, he proved valuable at either end of the ground in forward and defense.
The 2020 season saw Dawson become a mainstay off Sydney’s half-back line, utilising his elite kicking ability to where it was most effective. He quickly became a fan favourite as a result of the consistency and improvement he showed during the COVID-19 interrupted year.
The rest of competition became aware of Dawson’s ability in 2021 as he took his game to a new level. A move to the wing after the bye saw him become Sydney’s highest rated player from that moment to the end of the season.
Dawson ended the year strongly, and it was rewarded by a top three finish in Sydney’s club champion count, taking home the Peter Bedford trophy.
Surely enough, with his contract expiring at the end of the season, the Adelaide clubs saw an opportunity to attract the winger.
Turning 25 next season, Dawson has many years left in his career and his current trajectory shows that he’ll continue to improve. An argument could be made that Dawson has the potential to become one of the best wingers in the competition.
Dawson is an out of contract free agent, which is bad news for the Swans. It means they cannot match any contract bids to keep him at Sydney, nor will they receive any compensation from the AFL when he leaves.
Once Dawson chooses the club he wished to join, that club must agree to a trade that suits both clubs.
If neither side can agree on a trade, Dawson will have to attempt to join the club he chooses through the pre-season draft, risking being selected by other clubs. This situation is a last resort and is unlikely.
Jack Martin is recent example of this when he was selected by Carlton in the 2019 pre-season draft. Martin included high salary demands when nominating, ruling out the opportunity for other clubs to select him.
The Adelaide clubs have all the power in the trade as Sydney will not want to risk losing Dawson for nothing.
What do the South Australian sides have?
Adelaide draft picks: 4, 23, 37, 59, 63
Port Adelaide draft picks: 16, 60, 70, 71
Undoubtedly, the Swans will be eyeing off Adelaide’s pick four if Dawson decides to choose the Crows.
Sydney will want adequate compensation for a player that finished top three in the club’s best and fairest this season.
However, due to the nature of the power that the Crows have in this deal, it is more likely that pick 23 would be used to acquire Dawson.
Alternatively, if Dawson decides to join the Power, the Swans will expect pick 16 to be part of any deal.
It is unknown whether the Swans will target players from either club to be included as part of the trade deal.
It was reported last season that the Swans were looking to receive Peter Ladhams as part of the trade deal for Aliir Aliir, and perhaps could revisit that option.
The Swans could be looking to boost their ruck stocks once again as they are without a pure ruckman that can provide as a reliable backup to last season’s recruit Tom Hickey, who turns 31 next season.
22-year-old Port ruckman Sam Hayes is behind Ladhams and Scott Lycett in the pecking order at the Power, and could be an option as a potential steak-knives candidate.
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How do the Swans ‘win’?
The most likely scenario at this point would be the Swans receiving either pick 16 or 23, depending on which club Dawson decides to join, as well as some shuffling on later picks and/or future picks.
Both club and fans will hurt seeing Dawson leave the Harbour, and there’s no doubt he was going to be an important part of their future.
A ‘win’ for the Swans would be the club continuing to progress the development of their squad and go deeper into the finals in coming seasons despite the setback of Dawson’s exit.
When there’s loss, there’s opportunity to grow. The Swans must assess the opportunities that Dawson leaving will create.
Halfway through this season, Dawson switched positions, from half-back to the wing, with Nick Blakey moving to half-back and blossoming in his new position.
The opening of a wing position could be enough to convince former pick five, Dylan Stephens, to re-sign with the prospect of having more AFL opportunities.
Current pick five Braeden Campbell possesses the elite kicking ability that Dawson holds, but also has incredible acceleration that could add a new dynamic in the Swans midfield.
Young Errol Gulden could feature higher up the ground more often after displaying incredible game sense and maturity for a player in his first season.
The Sydney Swans have youthful and talented options that can fill the void of Dawson without disrupting the trajectory of the squad’s development.
Swans General Manager of Football, Charlie Gardiner, stated that Sydney had put an “attractive long-term deal” in front of Dawson.
The statement indicates that the Swans’ salary situation may not be as tight as outside reports have been suggesting, even after their captain, Luke Parker, signed on for another four years with the club.
Sydney will seemingly have a lot to play with, even more so if restricted free agent George Hewett is on his way to the Blues as per reports that there has been no communication between him and the Swans about a new deal.
With a young developing group, it could be wise for the Swans to tie down their squad of cygnets including promising key forward Logan McDonald, and speedster Justin McInerney, who are both out of contract at the end of the 2022 season.
Sydney will announce its list changes sometime soon with a number of players wondering whether they have a future at the club.
Current Sydney Swans players out of contract:
George Hewett (Restricted)
Sam Reid (Unrestricted)
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