Eddie Betts was drafted to the Carlton Football Club with pick three in the 2004 pre-season draft. In nine years at the club he has kicked 290 goals and played 184 games. Sadly, that is where his career at Carlton looks as if it is going to end. Betts, a restricted free agent, is reported to be headed to the Adelaide Crows in 2014 on a $500,000 per year contract, money Carlton cannot match.
Whilst this is a great pick up for the Crows who are lacking a genuine small forward, it is not all negative for Carlton. Jeff Garlett showed what he was capable of this year kicking 43 goals, and in Betts’ absence, Chris Yarran may also be able to develop into a genuine small forward. Yarran has had to play a number of unnatural roles such as wingman and running defender due to Garlett and Betts’ form but with no Betts, the former number six draft pick, if he doesn’t leave himself, may be able to find some continuity.
It doesn’t end there for the Blues, though. First-round draft pick Troy Menzel showed glimpses of what he will be capable of in the future and with the chance to put a full pre-season under his belt, the talented left-footer is another one the Blues could rotate through as a small forward until he develops the endurance to become a full-time midfielder. Another option is former father-son draft pick Dylan Buckley who only managed the one game this year but, despite not getting much of the ball, showed speed and goal sense. Carlton certainly has depth in the small forward department.
The other positive for Carlton with Betts leaving is midfield depth. Having three small players play exclusively forward for most of the year has meant Carlton has been forced to play fewer midfielders, meaning rotations are lower, affecting things such as uncontested possession and the amount of goals kicked by midfielders, both of which Carlton are lacking in. Carlton coach Mick Malthouse described the lack of run from the Carlton midfielders to be “startling” at times this year, and going ahead Carlton need to look at having more midfielders who can rest forward and still kick goals. This problem was also exacerbated by Kade Simpson and Andrew Walker being used as defenders and very rarely rotated through the midfield in the latter half of 2013.
With Betts gone, Carlton will have that little bit extra cash to splash around come the trade period starting October 4th. Carlton has been heavily linked to Collingwood midfielder Dale Thomas who would be perfect for that resting forward midfielder role the Blues sorely need. Carlton will need more than Thomas in 2014 if they are to have any impact in finals and must look at getting their hands on one other big midfield scalp as well as others to add to their depth, following Richmond’s efforts last year in adding Chris Knights, Sam Lonergan and Ricky Petterd to their list. None of them played 22 games, but have added to the amount of players Richmond can bring in if injuries were to hit.
Eddie Betts has been a favourite son at Carlton from day one and it is hard to begrudge him for wanting to return home and earn half a million dollars a year, Adelaide get what they want in a dangerous small forward and Carlton get the structure reshuffle they seriously need as well as a few extra dollars come the trade period. Besides Jeff Garlett who should now get the number one small defender, everybody wins.