In 2018, the average player wage in the AFL was $362,471, an increase of $10,000 on the previous year.
According to official figures to be released by the AFL in its 2018 Annual Report, 31 players earned more than $800,000 in 2018, up from 29 in 2017.
There were six AFL players that earned more than $1 million in 2018. Three of the six million dollar men took home between $1.2 and $1.3 million in 2018.
Richmond’s Dustin Martin, Fremantle’s Nathan Fyfe, Sydney’s Lance Franklin, Tom Lynch (Gold Coast in 2018), GWS’ Jeremy Cameron and Western Bulldogs’ Tom Boyd are believed to be the six.
We don’t know this because, unforgivably for whatever reason, AFL player wages aren’t made public even though they are in the NBA, European soccer and baseball.
But no, no, no, we can’t release the players’ wages in the AFL. We are behind the times with that.
Not all of those six, particularly Boyd, Cameron and Lynch deserved that six-figure salary.
So who in the AFL is worthy and deserving of such an exorbitant pay cheque?
Here are my six:
1. Dustin Martin (Richmond)
Deserves every cent of the million he takes home on the back of one the greatest individual seasons we have every seen that saw him win a Premiership, Norm Smith Medal, Best and Fairest, All Australian and Brownlow medal in 2017.
Expect him to return to his dynamic best with the introduction of the new rules this year.
2. Buddy Franklin (Sydney)
He deserves it. His nine-year, nine-million dollar deal to head to Sydney now looks good value for the Swans. Buddy is closing in on 1000 career goals and is still the most dynamic and powerful forward in the AFL.
3. Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong)
Dangerfield reportedly took home a salary of around 800k to head home to the Cats, well below what other clubs would have offered the Brownlow medallist. Danger is at the peak of his powers and worth every bit of a one million dollar wage.
4. Nat Fyfe (Fremantle)
Fremantle’s best player signed a new six-year deal that has him top the million dollar mark. When free of injury, he is arguably the best player in the game.
5. Alex Rance (Richmond)
Whilst key defenders doesn’t get the fan fare and plaudits that some of the midfielders and key forwards get, they are just as important. The five-time All-Australian and All-Australian captain is the best defender in the competition and is a lock for the AFL Hall of Fame when he retires.
6. Max Gawn (Melbourne)
Gawn just shades Collingwood’s Brodie Grundy as the best ruckman in the game. His ruck craft, ball-winning ability and leadership see him deserving of a million dollar pay cheque. Like Martin, the new rules in 2019 will see Gawn take his game to a new level this year.
They are the six players who deserve a million dollars in 2019.