Ex-Cat Johnson might move to Lions in AFL

Geelong premiership star Steve Johnson might extend his AFL career next season at Brisbane.

And Fremantle look set to offer troubled Gold Coast star Harley Bennell a career lifeline after he reportedly nominated the Dockers as his preferred destination on Wednesday.

Johnson, 32, had indicated he would be willing to move interstate for the right offer after the Cats decided not to give him a new deal at the end of this campaign.

The Lions had the second-worst attack in the AFL this season and list manager Peter Schwab revealed coach Justin Leppitsch was a fan of the mercurial goal kicker.

“I think you always look at a player of that class and quality, and think maybe he does offer a little bit for a very young group,” Schwab told the AFL’s website.

“We haven’t ruled out that possibility but we haven’t gone that far with our thinking in that regard.

“I think the coach has shown some interest and might’ve had a chat.”

Bennell, 23, is still contracted to the Suns but was told he would be traded out of the club after he was arrested following a late-night altercation in September on the Gold Coast.

Richmond hosted Bennell during AFL grand final week with a view to recruiting him but ultimately decided to pull out of the race for his services.

The AFL free agency period starts on Friday, with the trade window opening on the following Monday.

In other trade news, Port Adelaide staved off recruiting raids from rival Victorian clubs when they signed Hamish Hartlett on Wednesday to a new five-year deal.

The star midfielder mulled long-term offers, reportedly from North Melbourne and the Tigers, before agreeing to stay with the Power until at least the end of the 2021 season.

Port forward John Butcher also accepted a one-year extension to remain with the club.

Melbourne restricted free agent Colin Garland is staying with the Demons for another three years after also signing a new deal.

Greater Western Sydney’s Jed Lamb could be on the move to his third AFL club with the former Sydney forward considering a switch to Carlton.

Brisbane shape as a key player in the coming trade and free agency periods, with Schwab flagging his club’s interest in luring midfielder Tom Bell from Carlton and defender David Astbury from Richmond.

Talented youngster James Aish has been the subject of trade speculation all season and the Lions are still unsure if the former top-10 draft pick will sign a new deal.

“I’m not being evasive but I simply don’t know at the moment,” Schwab said, adding he would speak this week to Aish’s manager.

“We’re hopeful that he wants to stay and, the longer it’s taken, the more confident we’ve been that that might be the case.”

Matthew Leuenberger, who is a restricted free agent, is considering a fresh start at another club, with Stef Martin claiming the No.1 ruck role this season.

Jack Redden has expressed a desire to move to West Coast, but Schwab says the Eagles will need to satisfy their trade demands for the contracted midfielder to depart, with a draft pick preferred over a player.

Schwab said the club had cooled on its interest in signing Hawthorn unrestricted free agent Matt Suckling.

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