Brown: Blues the new leader in race for Josh Kelly
THERE is a new contender for the signature of Greater Western Sydney Giants star Josh Kelly.
Both North Melbourne and St Kilda are believed to be in the hunt for the prized midfielder, but AFL legend Johnathan Brown has revealed Carlton have joined the fight.
Carlton have proved a home for several former GWS players, given list manager Stephen Silvagni recruited several players to the club in his time with the Giants.
But Brown says Carlton are not just in the race for Kelly, he feels they are leading it.
"Everyone's talking about St Kilda and North Melbourne with Josh Kelly as his most likely landing spots if he does leave GWS. But my understanding is that Carlton is well and truly in this race," Brown told Fox Sports 'On the Couch'.
"And it's almost to the point where they're the frontrunner in this race."
The Kangaroos are believed to be offering Kelly a nine-year deal worth close to $9 million.
Kelly has also held discussions with Greater Western Sydney, but Brown says any contract offer wont just be about money - but also the possibility of winning an AFL premiership.
Kelly will consider "the complete package" in any move, something Brown says only leaves him with two options - GWS or the Blues, and not North Melbourne or St Kilda.
"He's obviously got a connection with the Carlton boys, there's a few of his ex-teammates there, he's friends with a few of those boys that are at Carlton," Brown said.
"He's got a good relationship with Stephen Silvagni. My understanding is behind the scenes Carlton is having a red hot crack for Kelly."
"I think the lure of winning a premiership in the next couple of years would almost entice Josh Kelly to stay, maybe two more years at GWS. But I can't see him signing a long-term deal, especially at GWS. I can see him signing a long-term deal at Carlton."
The nine-year, multi-million dollar offer is almost unprecedented in the AFL, with only Sydney star Buddy Franklin offered a similar deal.
It was hoped that long term security would sway Kelly to sign with either North Melbourne or St Kilda, but Brown says such a deal has little interest in the current AFL climate.
With the AFL salary cap rising all the time, Kelly is better off signing a shorter deal and capitalising on the increasing salary cap space afforded to clubs.
"He'd take a five-year deal, I can't see him taking a 10-year deal," Brown said.
we've seen the way the salary cap has increased with these new TV deals. You'd be mad if you took a 10-year deal."