To say the timing of Jordan De Goey’s latest controversy was ill-timed would be an understatement.
It wasn’t long ago multiple reports stated the 26-year old was closing in on a multi-year extension with Collingwood after spending this season winning back the trust of the club following his New York arrest over the summer.
How quickly things changed.
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There was a feeling of ‘here we go again’ when vision first emerged on Friday of De Goey partying in Bali and making crude sexual gestures.
And with it Collingwood pulled its four-year $3.2 million offer — a two-year deal with a trigger for another two years on $800,000 per season — to the gun midfielder/forward.
So where do things now stand with De Goey ahead of free agency while the events of the weekend have arguably cast an even bigger spotlight over his name? Foxfooty.com.au outlines the De Goey contract state of play below.
WHAT’S THE LATEST?
The Magpies on Tuesday confirmed De Goey, who revealed he was diagnosed with ADHD last year, had been handed a suspended $25,000 fine until the end of the season pending good behaviour, but no such ban was given.
The decision to essentially not sanction De Goey at all should he not slip up by the end of the AFL campaign has copped plenty of criticism.
However AFL 360 co-host Gerard Whateley argued that the Pies parking contract talks and withdrawing their previous offers were punishments in themselves where De Goey stands to lose $1.8 million in total from the club, suggesting it’ll only offer him a reduced two-year deal.
It now means that, assuming he plays against GWS on Sunday, De Goey has nine regular season games left to prove his worth, both to Collingwood and other potential suitors.
Of course, he reportedly has no such deal anymore on the table from the Pies, but that doesn’t mean things could change. But can Collingwood genuinely trust De Goey enough to hand him a lucrative deal when the club is trying to clean up its image from the Do Better report?
Speaking on Channel 9 earlier this week, veteran journalist Caroline Wilson cast serious doubt over his future at the Magpies.
“I think there’s a very good chance (he won’t be at Collingwood next year),” she said.
Elsewhere, former AFL stars Leigh Montagna and Jordan Lewis believe De Goey’s “bargaining power is getting less and less” both at Collingwood and rival clubs after his actions in Bali.
“If there was already some concerns — whether it’s at board level or club level discussing do we or don’t we, what are the risks versus rewards — this just adds another layer to it. It might put a few clubs off,” Montagna said on Fox Footy’s First Crack.
“We know he’s a matchwinner, we know he’s got high-level talent, he is a gun player in the competition, I do think that, but now maybe some clubs might think the risk is not worth the reward.”
Lewis highlighted how the AFL has become more system-based rather than individuals dominating, saying, “there’s so many examples to say that one player cannot win you a premiership or change the way you go about it, but it can certainly impact the group.”
De Goey’s former coach Nathan Buckley says the Collingwood star should accept whatever offer the Magpies put in front of him and that he should repay the club’s faith for sticking by him, even if it means forsaking extra money.
“Collingwood should not pay top dollar for Jordan De Goey,” Buckley told SEN’s Whateley.
“I think they should offer him what they’re prepared to pay him and that he should just accept that and say, ‘Thank you for your support, for your guidance and understanding as I try and navigate my life to go from being a young man who has made some blues to being a better contributor and better person’.
“I still think that if the club chooses to continue with him, I think that should be their parameters that they continue with him on. I think Jordy should be pretty thankful if that occurs.
“He’s still a young guy but he’s got to make better decisions and he’s got to decide to put people around him that are going to help him make better decisions.”
WHICH RIVAL CLUBS COULD WANT HIM?
There’s no denying that De Goey comes with a big ‘buyer beware’ tag — he did even prior to his latest indiscretion.
Of course, a key hurdle for any suitor — and one that’s been widely discussed — is how it can justify bringing in De Goey as one of its highest paid players. How can a board tick that off? What would the players earning less at that club think?
De Goey’s latest blunder has prompted calls that he’s “unrecruitable” to rivals, and while it could be argued that AFL teams have a capacity to transform ‘bad boys’ — just look at Tyson Stengle — there’s also been cases where clubs have taken punts on controversial figures that didn’t work out.
The key difference is here that De Goey probably won’t come at a bargain basement price, he’ll cost some. It can’t be denied though that all 17 other clubs would strictly from a talent perspective welcome De Goey would open arms.
The club that has been linked to De Goey is St Kilda, who’s previously had interest in him when he’s been out of contract.
The Herald Sun’s Jon Ralph reported the Saints were “leading the chasing pack of clubs” for De Goey, but would need to offer a long-term deal worth up to five years that may need to hit over $800,000 annually and potentially towards $1 million.
It’s near certain at this stage that De Goey could get a significantly better deal to leave the Pies.
“If you look at the basic mathematics, someone offering him $4 or $5 million, and Collingwood at most offering him a guaranteed $1.6 million,” Ralph told Fox Footy’s On the Couch.
St Kilda great Nick Riewoldt has said he’d support his former club making a move for De Goey on a deal as long as five years, but with caveats and only if it was confident he was willing to change.
“It’s something you can entertain as a football club because let’s not forget, we are talking about a serious on-field talent,” he said.
“For a club like St Kilda, which has won one premiership, he’s a difference maker. But this is all if you have a level of confidence a level of contrition has been shown.”
Another club that has been touted as a suitor for De Goey’s services is Essendon.
The Bombers reportedly have ample cap space and the capacity to land a big fish from a rival club, with AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson last month saying the Bombers were in a position to launch a bid.
De Goey — even at his price tag — would certainly make a lot of sense for the Bombers, while the thought of he and Jake Stringer playing in the same side is tantalising.
His flair on the midfield could provide a point of difference in Essendon’s midfield that it doesn’t really have with the likes of Darcy Parish, Zach Merrett and Dylan Shiel.
“They’ve got some money. They could pick up a top-three, top-four draft pick and they could pick up a free agent. Does that satisfy the millions of Essendon fans? Who knows?” Robinson said on AFL 360.
Of course, who could forget North Melbourne’s godfather offer to De Goey back in 2018 worth $5 million over five years? The struggling Roos, having missed out on several off-contract stars over the years, would surely be open to getting their hands on talent in the open market.
However a fair bit has changed since North’s aggressive bid five years ago. For one, De Goey was 21 at the time and a Luke Jackson-type commodity where the sky was the ceiling and he had the potential to be the number one player in the game.
And the Roos have since undergone significant change including to their football department and committed to a full-scale rebuild. So does a player who’ll be 27 by the start of next season and comes with baggage and risk make sense for North in a period where its endeavouring to set standards? Unlikely.
Another team who’s thought to have cap space is Hawthorn, but find itself in a similar position to the rebuilding Roos.
Heck, just last year the Hawks were shopping senior players to rival clubs to bring more draft picks through the door. It’s clear that the club’s priorities are redeveloping its list and getting younger under Sam Mitchell in a new era at Waverley, thus making De Goey a questionable target.
Although the Hawks’ midfield — much like Essendon’s — is very one paced and could use an X-factor like De Goe who can burst away from stoppages.
Then there’s the potential for a lower-profile club such as Port Adelaide to offer De Goey the opportunity to get away from the bright lights of Melbourne where he’d cop less scrutiny.
While trouble seems to follow De Goey wherever he goes, moving away from the limelight may be something that appeals to him, much like with Lance Franklin and even Joe Daniher.
HOW MUCH COULD HE COMMAND?
If one were to discard De Goey‘s off-field baggage — a big if — the on-field credentials of the 26-year-old are impressive.
Only two players in the competition this season average at least 20 disposals, 400 metres gained and one goal: Jordan De Goey and Marcus Bontempelli.
It‘s rare company to keep and one that underlines De Goey’s credentials as a midfielder/forward.
Judged as a midfield / forward, his rating points are 14.7 — the two above him are Bontempelli and Tom Liberatore.
He ranks elite in clearances, while he‘s above average in disposals, contested possessions, metres gained and goals.
As a pure midfielder, those disposal and clearance numbers come back down to average, but at most clubs if not all he would likely play the midfield / forward role given it‘s where he appears to have the most impact.
He‘s also thrived in that role and, on numbers at least, improved upon it this season compared to last, when the move was first made.
His player rating points have jumped from 9.1 to 14.7, his average metres gained have jumped by nearly 100 and he averages nearly two more clearances per game.
No one is suggesting De Goey could command as much as Bontempelli, but his ability as a centre-bounce player who can charge forward is considerable.
Any contract that goes beyond three years, however, would be irresponsible.
That’s at least the stance of former Hawthorn star Ben Dixon.
“You wouldn‘t be giving him any more than three years, that’s ludicrous,” Dixon told foxfooty.com.au.
“That’s going to take you to 30 roughly and then it’s a reset. It’d be absolutely ludicrous to go more than three.”
De Goey, Dixon says, has hit his maximum in terms of playing potential.
“I think he‘s hit his ceiling. I don’t think he’s going to get any better,” he said.
“I think what his value is right now is around the mark. It’s hard to put a figure on it but around the $700,000 is the right price. Anything above that is excessive.”
HOW DOES HE FIT INTO THE PIES?
De Goey offers plenty to Collingwood on the field — the aforementioned stats indicate as much.
Is he a must-keep, however? Not according to Dixon.
“I don’t think there‘s any player in the league you can’t cover,” he said.
“If you lose a Dustin Martin right now for whatever reason … I don’t think Richmond is at a point now where they’re so heavily reliant on Dustin Martin.
“We’re at a point now where you don’t rely on one, two, three or four players, because your system is backed up so well.”
From an on-field standpoint though, De Goey is one of four Collingwood players to average at least four clearances a game; the other three are Brodie Grundy, Taylor Adams and Jack Crisp.
All three of those names are linked to the club for at least another year, with Crisp likely to extend his deal beyond 2023, Adams tied in until 2024 and Grundy on a mammoth seven-year deal until 2027.
Patrick Lipinski has been a great pick-up and Nick Daicos will continue to grow, so there are other options, although admittedly none are able to execute the midfielder/forward role as well as De Goey has proven himself able to in the last two years.
It’s also worth noting that De Goey’s future at Collingwood has implications on its interest in Lions free agent Dan McStay to some degree.
If the Magpies decided against matching a free agency offer from De Goey and parting ways with him, the compensation they would receive would be diluted by the hypothetical arrival of McStay.
Perhaps a more interesting question is whether De Goey fits in from a whole-of-club perspective.
This is a club that has sold its 2022 season on a ‘clean slate’ approach, headed by first-year coach Craig McRae, with an overhaul of the board and football department.
The off-field controversy De Goey appears to have a knack for finding is not in line with the sort of club Collingwood is trying to reshape itself as.
A stronger support network for De Goey is one suggestion that has been put forward by many, but perhaps none as strong as Dixon.
De Goey’s initial statement about being persecuted by the media in a biased and unjust manner was one he has since backflipped from after consultation with Collingwood, but one that was telling in what it left out as much as what was in it.
The media, Dixon says, is not De Goey’s key source of concern.
“It’s a problem because he’s making it a problem and his environment is making it a problem. He’s got a choice to make: Do you want to keep hanging around your mates who continually tip you in?” he said.
“If you are so socially inept that you cannot comprehend that your mates are the problem because they are broadcasting your behaviour, then you’ve got a wrong circle of mates or you haven’t got the guts to stand up to your mates and say ‘put your phone away.’”’
De Goey is far from the only player to go out partying or drinking during their mid-season break — he isn’t even the only one who went to Bali, with both Darcy Moore and Jamie Elliott also there on a separate trip.
A key issue of De Goey’s, Dixon said, is who he does said partying or drinking with.
“I can guarantee you seven out of 10 AFL players are doing what he is doing (partying hard), week in week out, it is a fact. He’s not one out of the box, but his mates are exposing him,” he said.
“His (initial) statement that he put out … Jordan, you should be putting a statement out about your mates, who are consistently throwing you under the bus. The media is not throwing you under the bus, you’ve got this totally wrong.
“Your so-called mates are the ones who have thrown you under a bus and then reversed over you. There’s a tipping point when you’re going to wake up one morning and go, ‘You’re actually not my real mates’ or ‘These guys want the attention, they want the audience, they want the stardom’. Wake up.”
Much like Collingwood itself has changed so much of its support network, De Goey simply must undergo a similar endeavour if he’s to avoid the pitfalls he continues to court.
We’ve been in this position before where De Goey has had the opportunity to leave Collingwood for a bigger payday. Although it’s now undoubtedly a more complicated situation.
The Magpies had their chance to make a big statement this week and hand harsher penalties to say, ‘we’re not accepting this kind of stuff anymore’ and signal their stance on the out-of-contract star.
But Collingwood CEO Mark Anderson, although admitting contract talks were on hold until season’s end, even said De Goey had made progress from a behaviour standpoint in something of a defence of him while still condemning his behaviour.
Some have even suggested the whole Bali debacle could be a sneaky win for the Pies in that it lowers his overall price tag.
It would be fair to say that with where the club was positioned six months ago coming off its 17th-place finish, it would’ve been more desperate to retain a player of De Goey’s ilk. However as talented as he remains, that’s now a much more positive outlook at Collingwood, and no matter its situation, the club surely can’t keep tolerating these slip ups.
There is clearly an opportunity more than ever before for a rival to table a big-money offer to lure him away from the AIA Centre — and the disparity between that offer and what the Pies will make has the potential to be the biggest yet.
What it now ultimately comes down to is where De Goey’s priorities lie — the very thing that has been so regularly questioned over the past week — given the Bali incident clearly didn’t warrant Collingwood wanting to flat out part ways with him — it just adds another layer of doubt to an already troublesome figure.
Being a free agent the ball is largely in his court. And so it’s something that he and his manager (and brother in law) Ryan Vague will need to discuss again once the dust settles after the Bali incident given his situation has again changed.
Is it perhaps in everyone’s best interests for De Goey to get a fresh start at another club? For De Goey and the Magpies to shake hands and say, ‘thanks for everything.’
Collingwood is all De Goey has ever known for his eight AFL seasons in the league, and he’s long said he wants to remain at the club. Come the end of the season this whole fiasco could well be a distant memory if the on-field results remain rosy at the club.
You also get the impression he isn’t the type who would want to walk into another club on a big-money deal given the pressure he already faces.
It means that the most likely scenario still at this stage, unless there’s another controversy or De Goey decides otherwise, is for him to stay at the club that’s been as loyal to him as he’s been to it for eight years.
But if he wasn’t already, De Goey is now walking on a tightrope.