BRENT Prismall retains a glimmer of hope of earning at least a fifth season at Essendon, after his delisting was cushioned by an invitation to continue training with the Bombers.
The club's off-season departure list reached 11 on Tuesday as Prismall, his fellow midfielder Ricky Dyson and untried forward Ariel Steinberg were all discarded ahead of Thursday's second list lodgement deadline.
Steinberg's delisting comes despite the Bombers announcing in mid-August a contract extension for the 20-year-old to the end of 2013. That contract will be honoured although Steinberg will, barring being drafted by a rival club, be serving it as a rookie rather than a senior-listed player.
The AFL Players Association is troubled by the emerging trend of clubs delisting contracted players, some of whom they have indicated they will re-draft through the rookie system.
In addition to Steinberg at Essendon, Greater Western Sydney axed playing assistant coach Dean Brogan on Tuesday – just a fortnight after announcing the ruckman would be retained – while North Melbourne earlier cut Matt Campbell. Other clubs are still to finalise their lists and there is a suspicion Fremantle may cut two more contracted players.
A contracted player who is delisted is still required to be paid his full entitlements under his contract but if he is retained as a rookie-listed player the club does not have to include the rookie component of the contract in the salary cap.
The player, however, has to go through the uncertainty of a draft again while still a contracted player.
Prismall, 26, was recruited by Essendon from Geelong at the end of 2008 and, despite arriving at the club while in recovery from knee-reconstruction surgery, initially lived up to the high expectations, averaging 22.9 possessions in his first season.
In 2010 and 2011 Prismall struggled to maintain his first-choice status at the Bombers, while in the past season he was limited to just a handful of VFL matches after a nagging hamstring injury that followed his recovery from a second knee reconstruction.
Prismall's manager, Tom Petroro of Stride Sports Management, said his client was in "really, really good shape" and was encouraged by Essendon's offer for him to, between now and the December 11 pre-season draft, press his case for re-drafting.
Dyson, 27, who had nine seasons at Essendon, is officially searching for a new club after Essendon declined to also offer him the opportunity to continuing training with its contracted players.
Petroro, who also manages Dyson, said his client would nominate for the drafts and was willing to move interstate to build on his record of 131 senior matches at Essendon.
Melbourne and Geelong have now effectively swapped key defenders with Tom Gillies, 22, signed by the Demons on Tuesday as a delisted free agent after Geelong had previously signed the experienced Jared Rivers from Melbourne.