As time passes, it’s becoming more and more likely that Brendon Goddard will be wearing the red sash of the Essendon Football Club in 2013.
Goddard, who officially named Essendon as his club of choice on the first day of the AFL free agency period, was selected as the first pick in the 2002 National Draft. Since his selection, Goddard has played 205 games for St Kilda.
As a restricted free agent, St Kilda has three days to respond to the offer put on the table by Essendon.
Although he has been a long-serving patriot for the Saints, and despite stating clearly that he will remain with St Kilda in 2013 earlier in the year, Goddard is expected to sign the dotted line on a hefty contract offered by Essendon. However, it appears as though it will not be St Kilda losing out on this deal.
Since his 2010 season, during which St Kilda came within a bad bounce of winning a premiership, Goddard’s numbers have decreased significantly in the major statistical categories.
In that year, Goddard led from the front on-field, averaging 28.7 disposals a game with 10.2 of them contested, going at 79% for disposal efficiency. While his disposal efficiency has not dropped when compared to 2012, his average disposals and contested possessions dropped to 23.6 and 8.2 respectively.
Even more relevant to the Bombers is the drop in his number of clearances from 2010, where he averaged 3.4 clearances per game in comparison to 2.5 in 2012.
Essendon averaged only 36 clearances per game in 2012, only above GWS, Gold Coast and Melbourne in that category. This isn’t a new problem for the Bombers, who have struggled to post significant numbers in this area for a while now.
Since 2004, when they ended the season with seventh-highest number of clearances, the Bombers have only finished in the top half of the ‘clearance ladder’ once, another seventh-placed finish in 2011.
When it comes down to it, Essendon is paying a projected $700,000 each year for four years to upgrade one of its many quality flankers, when it really needed to target a hardened player to perform in the centre.
Goddard’s best is scintillating, but he is playing far from his best and has done so for a couple of years now. He has slowly moved away from the centre of the field, finding a lot of the footy on the flanks and wings.
As a 27-year-old, turning 28 in 2013, Goddard’s four-year contract with the Bombers could be a real hit or miss. For the money Essendon has forked up for him, the deal has already started as a significant miss.
As for the Saints, they have a very talented young midfielder by the name of Arryn Siposs escalating through the ranks. Goddard’s loss may be felt through the supporter base, but Siposs is already looking as though he will develop into a very capable replacement.
Not to mention the salary cap space freed up if Goddard does leave, a deal that is looking near-certain now, which the Saints will surely use to bolster its stocks around the ground.
The money Essendon could have spent on getting a hardened midfielder is going to waste on Brendon Goddard. Although he can be a magnificent player, his current track record doesn’t warrant a four-year contract for such a significant amount of money.