Shaun Atley has turned his back on Free Agency, instead signing a new three-year deal with North Melbourne.

The 25-year-old speedster says the original plan was to talk about his contract at season's end, but things changed in recent weeks.

"It's nice to have it out of the way before the end of the year," he said.

"The decision from me and my management, and from the club, was that we were going to wait until the end of the year, so it is a bonus to have it out of the way now.

"Playing in a new position as well, I haven't really played forward too much, I wanted to see how I would adjust to that, and the club was happy enough to offer a contract.

"I am rapt that it is done now."

The deal will take Atley to at least the end of the 2021 season with the Kangaroos.

"I've been here for all of my AFL career and North have been really good to me, so it is nice to be able to stick around for a while," he told The Herald Sun's Glenn McFarlane.

"You never know how long you can play footy for, so I am very happy to be locked into the one club until I am at least 29 years old."

Although there were rivals' offers, Atley told his manager Alex McDonald he didn't want to know too much.

"I suppose he fielded calls with the clubs, but I asked him not to tell me too much. I never found out much," Atley said.

"The way the club is going definitely played a role in me wanting to stay. I suppose after playing in two prelims over years, just to have that taste of finals, it makes you more determined than ever.

"I want to achieve the ultimate success and I think what they are building at North shows that hopefully we are capable of that.

"We have probably been in a bit of transition period in the last couple of years with the older guys going out, and filling it up with a lot of young guys. To their credit they have come in and played their roles and we have been able to get some wins on the board this year which always helps.

"It has been a very positive place lately."

Atley will run out for his 170th game on Sunday against the Swans, and says his decision to stay depended a lot on the coach.

"Brad [Scott] has been awesome for the club and for me personally. He has always instilled a lot of confidence in me to take the game on and play to my sort of attributes. He has been brilliant for the club over the years in taking us to two preliminary finals," he said.

"Everyone at the club loves having him there.

"I have never played forward before, even in my junior career, and Scotty came to me halfway through last year and said 'How would you feel about having a crack up forward?'. To be honest I had never ever entertained the idea.

"When he said it I had a bit of an open mind and thought about it, and I thought 'why not?'.

"It is a high work rate role, but it does give you the freedom to get up the ground and get back. I have been loving it."

Atley has kicked 11 goals so far this season, but it's his speed and ability to break the lines that makes him so dangerous.

"Shaun typifies North Melbourne, he puts his head down and works hard. He has enjoyed his time there and gets along well with Scotty," Atley's manager Alex McDonald said.

"For someone who has predominantly played all of his footy down back, he is relishing his new role.

"The Kangaroos are well coached and with good people like Shaun they can help take the club forward, and he can see there is a bright future at the Kangaroos."