ESSENDON ARE HALFWAY TOWARDS MAKING GOOD ON THEIR PROMISE TO RETAIN THE DOZEN OF CONTRACTED BUT BANNED BOMBERS.
THE 12 PLAYERS WHO HAVE MISSED THE 2016 SEASON WHILE SERVING ANTI-DOPING BANS ARE LIKELY TO SEE ESSENDON PICK UP THEIR FIRST WOODEN SPOON IN 80 YEARS FROM THE SIDELINES.
BUT THE BOMBERS ARE EXPECTED TO REBOUND IN 2017.
TOM BELLCHAMBERS – Unloved by former coach James Hird but signed a new two-year deal in June.
TRAVIS COLYER – One of the first movers, agreeing a three-year deal in April.
DYSON HEPPELL – The captain-in-waiting has pledged to honour a five-year deal signed last year.
HEATH HOCKING – The first Bomber to re-sign, agreeing a contract extension.
CALE HOOKER – Effectively a Bomber for life after locking in a five-year deal in April.
DAVID MYERS – Penned a three-year deal in May to keep the 26-year-old at the club until 2019.
MICHAEL HIBBERD – 2016? On a European holiday with Bellchambers, Michael Hurley and Jobe Watson. 2017? Contracted for next season but targeted by Melbourne, to be coached by his former assistant coach Simon Goodwin.
BEN HOWLETT – Reportedly miffed at his one-year contract offer from the Bombers and hunting around for a longer deal.
MICHAEL HURLEY – The Western Bulldogs want him. Adelaide, North Melbourne and others might too. Essendon still feel they have a shot to keep him.
TAYTE PEARS – May not be back in the AFL at all, with a second career as a firefighter waiting.
BRENT STANTON – The Bombers believe and hope he will return for one more season. Unlikely to continue on elsewhere.
JOBE WATSON – Will he or won’t he continue? The doping saga has turned Watson into a near-universally loved footy figure, but could cost him his Brownlow Medal and make him walk away from the game.
JAKE CARLISLE (St Kilda) and JAKE MELKSHAM (Melbourne) have been made to wait a year but will begin tenures at the second clubs in 2017.
STEWART CRAMERI (Western Bulldogs) hasn’t given up hope of playing in this year’s finals series should the players’ appeal be successful. Otherwise he’s back in the kennel for 2017.
PATRICK RYDER and ANGUS MONFRIES (both Port Adelaide) will resume at Alberton next season.