Carlisle is apparently the most sought after out of contract player this season. He’s a 198cm key position player, capable of playing in defence and attack. He excels in the air and thinks through situations quite clearly. He is also prone to emotional outbursts and can have a negative attitude if he doesn’t quite agree with where the coaching staff need him to play.
It’s for these reasons that Essendon is better placed to trade him.
Carlisle has made it clear that he prefers to play in defence. His best professional year was when he played key defence. Unfortunately, there are two players who are ahead of him in the queue.
Hurley is having a career-best year. While he is the lesser aerial player compared to Carlisle, Hurley’s advantage is in foot skills, intensity in one-on-one contests and an attitude to just not lose.
Hooker is the best contested mark at the Club and his pressure-releasing clunks means that he should get paid handsomely next year. While kicking is a clear weakness, the competitiveness at the contest and that will to not lose makes him a great pairing with Hurley.
These two key position players are the core of Essendon’s defence. A Hooker-Carlisle or Hurley-Carlisle combination runs a deficit to the Hurley-Hooker core. If one of this trio could cover a smaller, speedier player like Fletcher then the mix can work. As it stands, there is only room for two.
Shifting one of the three forward has been an interim fix which is a win only for the opposition defence. All can put on a cameo in attack but wouldn’t be a long term solution. And all three are clearly too talented to be a backup or reserve player.
The best outcome would be to trade out of surplus assets. In this case, key position defenders. Releasing Carlisle would make retaining Hooker easier next year and hone the recruitment focus on necessary areas like the ruck, the midfield and a true key position player up forward.
Essendon has had a tendency to be difficult negotiators during the free agency and trade period. This stubbornness has closed opportunities and retained players that were better off at other clubs. Carlisle has trade value only up to a point. Essendon will need to be able to negotiate fast enough for a win-win situation otherwise Carlisle can just walk but not necessarily to the club of his choice.