Dragons stars facing axe in $2m roster shake-up
The Dragons have up to $2 million to spend but landing a marquee signing is proving more problematic.
Almost half the Dragons squad could be on the move by season's end.
And beyond that only seven players from their top 30 are contracted past the end of 2021, so any major roster adjustments to the Dragons squad should be a quicker fix than most clubs who sink to the bottom of the ladder.
Tyson Frizell is already out the door while Jack de Belin's playing future will be decided by the courts.
The Dragons have continued to pay him about $1 million in the past two years without playing a match. Rival clubs including the Tigers and the Warriors have already been linked to the former State of Origin player.
The Dragons have made a strike outside back, an edge and middle player as their signing priorities.
De Belin would take care of the middle forward but the Dragons might not know his fate until the end of this year.
The likes of Kane Evans, James Tamou, Jacob Saifiti and Christian Welch have been touted as potential options to play in the middle.
James Graham should retire at season's end while Jacob Host is also on an inflated deal despite limited appearances in the top grade.
Canberra's John Bateman is unlikely to join the Dragons while Luke Thompson rejected them to join Canterbury next year.
Josh Kerr has an option in his favour.
Long-term centres Tim Lafai and Euan Atiken are likely to be shown the door with their combined salary around $800,000.
Centre Moses Suli was a prime target earlier this year but he has since inked a two-year extension with Manly.
Other outside backs discussed include Alex Johnston, Jordan Rapana and Josh Addo-Carr. Young gun Jason Saab was denied a release last week but is expected to ask for another as early as today.
Releasing fullback Matt Dufty from the final year of his deal could also clear out about $300,000.
The Dragons' biggest problem is the $2 million they have tied-up in the underperforming Ben Hunt and Corey Norman.
Norman's $800,000 contract expires at the end of next year while Hunt could remain at the club until 2023.
Neither look like they would be easy to shift although the Titans would consider making a play for Hunt to play dummy-half.
Hunt and Zac Lomax (2025) have long-term contracts.
The club is hopeful of building its future around Lomax, Saab, Blake Lawrie, Jackson Ford, Jayden Sullivan and Fegai brothers Max and Mat.
WHEN THEY'RE OFF CONTRACT
2020: Euan Aitken, Jack de Belin, Tyson Frizell (joining Newcastle in 2021), James Graham, Jacob Host, Josh Kerr (has option for 2021), Tim Lafai, Joe Lovodua, Issac Luke, Mikaele Ravalawa, Tristan Sailor
2021: Eddie Blacker, Billy Brittain, Matt Dufty, Tyrell Fuimaono, Cameron McInnes, Trent Merrin, Corey Norman, Jordan Pereira, Korbin Sims, Paul Vaughan (has option for 2022), Brayden Wiliame
2022: Adam Clune, Ben Hunt (has option for 2023), Blake Lawrie, Jason Saab, Tariq Sims, Jackson Ford
2025: Zac Lomax
Originally published as The Dragons stars facing axe in $2m roster shake-up