Adelaide elected not to match St Kilda’s offer for restricted free agent Brad Crouch earlier this week, granting the midfielder's move to Moorabbin with a second-round compensation pick (currently No.23) landing at West Lakes.
Many questions emerged in the wake of the Crows’ decision: Why didn’t they match the offer? What happened if they did match the offer? Would St Kilda be willing to negotiate a trade? Was Brad willing to return to the club?
Here is what the key figures had to say:
Brad Crouch: I’m fully committed to St Kilda
Crouch arrived in Adelaide on Tuesday afternoon following a holiday on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
With 24 hours until the decision deadline, the 26-year-old implored the Crows not to match the Saints’ offer.
“I’ve told St Kilda I’m fully committed to them and I want to see that through,” Crouch said.
Crouch also told reporters on Tuesday he “hadn’t really thought about” a return to West Lakes.
It’s crunch time for @Adelaide_FC and restricted free agent @Brad_Crouch. The midfield star urged Adelaide not to match St Kilda's long-term offer, slamming the door on an ugly West Lakes return. @TheoDrop @7AFL #7AFL #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/wV5tFZsDQK— 7NEWS Adelaide (@7NewsAdelaide) November 3, 2020
Simon Lethlean: We won’t be trading for him
St Kilda Chief Operating Officer Simon Lethlean told SEN Breakfast on Thursday the Saints were “really clear” with Adelaide they wouldn’t enter negotiations for Crouch at the trade table.
He indicated they were prepared to look elsewhere if they were unable to sign the Crows’ 2019 Club Champion through free agency.
“We were pretty clear all along that we were very keen on him (Crouch) as a free agent and that we wouldn’t be trading for him,” Lethlean said.
With the Saints unwilling to trade, the Crows sought to engage other clubs in a bid to orchestrate a better deal, but ultimately had to accept the band three compensation pick from the AFL.
“I’m sure they exhausted all avenues to find other suitors that would trade,” Lethlean said.
“The Crows would have liked a better compensation pick but that’s out of their hands as well.
“That’s an AFL rule based on the offer, so the Crows couldn’t have done any more.”
Adam Kelly: We were never prepared to offer five years
Outside of accepting the AFL’s compensation verdict, Adelaide’s only other option was to match the St Kilda offer to keep the midfielder in the tricolours.
However, the Crows were never prepared to offer Crouch the long-term deal he and his management desired for a potential reward of moving a mere six spots up this year’s draft board.
“For the best part of the last 18 months, Brad’s been seeking a long-term deal with the Club, the type of which we haven’t been wanting to put forward,” Kelly said on Wednesday.
“We weren’t going to change our minds on that just to move from pick 23 to pick 17, and risk that wasn’t going to come off and we would’ve ended up with a player on a deal that we would’ve been unhappy with.”
Garry Winter: It could involve the pre-season draft
Even if Adelaide had agreed to match St Kilda’s offer, things would have become “really complicated” according to Crouch’s manager, Garry Winter from W Sports and Media.
Winter suggested Crouch could have followed the path of Carlton forward-midfielder Jack Martin, who joined the Blues via the pre-season draft last year after trade period discussions with his former club, the Gold Coast Suns, broke down.
“I would say they were more unpalatable paths that we could have gone,” Winter told AFL Trade Radio on Thursday.
“It just adds layers of complexity of what I would call unnecessary delays and stress to the whole system when you’re really fighting to get something that ultimately is inevitable.
“It could have ultimately involved Brad nominating into the pre-season draft and making sure he still got to St Kilda at the end of the day.”