Dangerfield should be a Cat next year, but at what cost?

Shane Mumford and Dylan Shiel of the Giants apply pressure to Patrick Dangerfield of the Crows as he hand balls during the Round 8 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Adelaide Crows at Spotless Stadium in Sydney, Saturday, May 23, 2015. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
In demand ... Patrick Dangerfield in possibly his last season of playing for the Adelaide Crows. DEAN LEWINS

ADELAIDE spent five minutes without Paddy Dangerfield on the field in the last quarter of last Thursday night's game against Hawthorn.

Unfortunately for the Crows, they may have to get used to not having him run out with the team at all.

If rules permitted it - like in the NRL - 'Danger' would probably already be signed, sealed and just waiting until the end of the season to be delivered to Geelong.

Or - like in the NRL - we might be seeing a messy tug-of-war for his services playing out during the season, with offers and counter-offers, threats and counter-threats.

Looking to replenish their steadily-dwindling midfield stocks after a decade of dominance, the Cats are poised to pounce on a player widely regarded as being among the top 10 in the competition, and coming out of contract.

The 25-year-old's disposal still needs some work - he's tracking at a very scratchy 57% efficiency-rate this season - but his ability to win the ball and burst forward is second to none. Well, perhaps one ... Nat Fyfe.

Drafted in 2007, Dangerfield is a Geelong boy at heart, hailing from just down the Great Ocean Road at Moggs Creek. His partner Mardi was born and bred in Sleepy Hollow while her father, Bruce Harwood, is a former mayor of the city.

There is mounting speculation the Crows are planning to match any offer the Cats dish up, which is their right under rules relating to 'restricted' free agents (those who have only been at a club for eight years).

The hard-ball move would mean Dangerfield is either forced to stay in Adelaide, or take his chances in the pre-season draft - and possibly end up in Queensland - or Geelong (or another club) attempts to trade for him. But, even then there's no guarantee.

You can understand Adelaide wanting to keep him, and understand why it would want more in compensation if it does lose him than, say, pick 13 in the national draft, if the Crows remained seventh at season's end.

Likewise, Hawthorn deserved more than draft pick 19 in return for Lance Franklin a couple of years back.

But, surely, like any employee of any organisation, Dangerfield should have the freedom to leave, without the possibility of being held to ransom, after giving eight outstanding years of service, especially when it means taking up another offer that better suits his and his partner's (possibly changing) lifestyle.

Who's to say Paddy and Mardi aren't wanting to start a family soon and be close to their own parents.

Joining the Swans and not the Giants may have been questionable, but no one should have begrudged Franklin for wanting to relocate to Sydney where his then girlfriend and now fiancée Jesinta Campbell resides.

So while many are asking 'Should free agency be scrapped entirely to let clubs work out suitable trades between themselves?', the question 'Should there even be a 'restricted' clause allowing clubs to match offers?' is also rightfully being posed.