Trading players is just like trading footy cards. The stakes are just a little higher…

It’s a time when fans can hope… and hope some more that a superstar lands in their team, so they can dream about their club’s chances in the upcoming season. For clubs and players it’s a time to re-build and perhaps pull on a fresh guernsey.

Keeping up with the Trade Period can be more intense than time on in the final quarter. Below is a glossary of some helpful trading terms that would not be found in the Oxford Dictionary.


Free Agent

This is any AFL player who might just consider an offer from a rival club during the off-season Trade Period. They’re what you might call foot loose and fancy free.

Restricted Free Agent

These players are in the top 25% of salaries at their club and have served a minimum of eight years at the club. It means they’re eligible for restricted free agency the first time they are out of contract.

Unrestricted Free Agent

These guys are not in the top 25% of salaries at their club but have served at least eight years. That’s what makes them eligible for unrestricted free agency. And players on the primary list of their club who are delisted are classed as unrestricted free agents too, but a player who retires or delists himself isn’t. Got it?


If a club has a net loss of players due to them transferring as free agents, the AFL will sometimes allocate draft picks to those clubs. But compensation can only ever occur in the one transfer period.

Matching Offer

A matching offer is just that - a club may submit a contract offer that matches the contract offer proposed by a club seeking to secure a player. But this relates to restricted free agents only.

Out of contract

Basically, this guy’s contract is up. The options for his club are to either renew him, delist him, or they could try to trade him during the Trade Period.


A rookie is a player who is outside of the 38-man primary or senior list at their club. These young fellas aren’t allowed to play unless they are elevated to the senior list or nominated by their club – but only if there are fewer than 38 guys on their primary list.

Salary Cap

Along with the NAB AFL Draft, the salary cap is part of the AFL’s Equalization Policy. It places a limit on the amount of money that a club can spend on players’ salaries. It’s designed to keeps things more competitive.

Top 25%

This is the guaranteed contract value of the top 25% of players (that’s the top 9 – 10 paid players) in the relevant contract years.


Veterans are players with 10 completed years or more playing at one club. Nice work veterans! And clubs with veterans are granted a salary cap allowance for those players. That means a set portion of the player’s contract sits outside the club’s salary cap.

Footifying Australia since 2002