With the Western Bulldogs seemingly set to lose Luke Dahlhaus to Geelong on a four-year deal and the retirements of Shane Biggs, Clay Smith and potentially Jack Redpath, the attention turns to the remaining out-of-contract Dogs.
Tom Liberatore, Mitch Wallis and Jordan Roughead remain unsigned and all the Bulldogs futures of all three are up in the air.
Liberatore suffered an ACL injury in Round 1 and has subsequently been under the radar since.
The Bulldogs came out in June and said they’d allow the 26-year-old to do his knee rehab before getting to contract negotiations.
We are now almost in September and he is still unsigned. He also hasn’t really been linked to other clubs, either.
At his best, Liberatore is a clearance machine who lays tackles and is strongest on the inside of stoppages.
Essendon is a team who could benefit from someone on the inside, allowing the likes of Dyson Heppell, Zach Merrett and David Zaharakis to lessen their workloads.
St Kilda and Gold Coast are teams that would be advantaged by a contested midfielder to help their younger players develop, but whether they’d want Liberatore is the question.
Of the out-of-contract Bulldogs, he seems the most likely to remain in the red, white and blue.
Fellow father-son midfielder Wallis is garnering more interest from other clubs.
The 25-year-old has been linked to the likes of Essendon, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Carlton, with seemingly everyone valuing his services highly.
Wallis found himself on the outside at the Dogs at stages this year with coach Luke Beveridge wanting him to spend more time forward.
He ended up kicking 20 goals for the year, while averaging 21 disposals per game.
The Bulldogs have reasonably strong depth through the midfield with Jack Macrae, Marcus Bontempelli, Lachie Hunter, Caleb Daniel, Toby McLean, Josh Dunkley and Ed Richards to go with Wallis and Liberatore.
They can afford to let one of them go without necessarily losing much on the depth chart.
Wallis has repeatedly expressed interest in remaining at the Bulldogs, but may benefit from a larger role at another club.
The Dogs have also struggled to work out who their number one ruckman is since Will Minson retired, with Tom Boyd and Roughead tag-teaming the role.
Both have had their periods of success, but with highly-rated youngster Tim English seemingly the heir apparent to the role, Roughead may not have a place going forward.
West Coast are reportedly interested in Roughead and may make a move if they lose Scott Lycett – which seems likely.
St Kilda is the frontrunner for Lycett, but may consider Roughead should that fall through.
It seems like the Dogs could be moving on from their older guard with Dale Morris, Tom Campbell and Liam Picken potentially also coming to the end as well.
It’s possible that these three stalwarts, as well as Dahlhaus, could find their way out of Whitten Oval at the end of the year as the club looks to its next generation.