The standoff between the Western Bulldogs and Essendon will head into the start of this week's Trade Period with star midfielder Josh Dunkley yet to request a trade.

Dunkley has been weighing up a lucrative long-term deal from the Bombers despite having two years to run on his contract with the Bulldogs, where he played in the 2016 premiership.

He has been considering the Bombers' approach, with Essendon's pitch to the 23-year-old including its interest in selecting his brother – and former Demon – Kyle Dunkley as a delisted free agent.  

But Dunkley has not asked the Dogs to be traded to Essendon, despite the Bombers' growing suite of early draft picks giving it plenty of cards to make things happen.

The Bombers hold pick No.6 and now No.7 after accepting the free agency compensation for Joe Daniher's move to Brisbane, and are also targeting pick No.8 as part of the deal for Adam Saad.

Although the Dogs have made it clear they will not entertain a trade for Dunkley, draft picks also have less value for the club given their selections will be absorbed by matching a bid for top Next Generation Academy talent Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who is expected to attract a bid inside the opening few selections. – Callum Twomey

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'Big Boy' out of reach as Bulldogs continue ruck search

The Bulldogs' search for a ruckman continues to be their main priority in the Trade Period, but their interest in luring Hawthorn big man Ben McEvoy to the club has been blocked.

The club had enquired about the prospect of luring McEvoy out of the Hawks to his third club, with the two-time premiership ruckman playing mainly as a key defender this season behind the Hawks' preferred big man Jonathon Ceglar.

But with a year to go on his deal with the Hawks, and Ceglar managing a knee injury, the Hawks do not want to lose McEvoy and the 31-year-old has not expressed a desire to leave.

Hawthorn had been pursuing Melbourne's Braydon Preuss to bolster its own ruck department before Preuss settled on joining Greater Western Sydney as his new home. 

The Dogs have been open in their desire to add to their ruck stocks to support youngster Tim English, who was well beaten by the Saints' ruck duo in the clubs' elimination final clash. 

Geelong's Darcy Fort, who is out of contract, is a ruck option who is on their radar as they scour the competition for ready-made big men. 

The Bulldogs are among several clubs searching for ruck strength in the exchange period, with Sydney interested in West Coast's Tom Hickey and Port Adelaide's Peter Ladhams, while Brisbane big man Stefan Martin is waiting on a contract offer from the club. 

Delisted Bomber Shaun McKernan, who has played as a pinch-hit ruckman, has attracted interest from St Kilda. – Callum Twomey

Dockers preparing for Clark opportunity

Fremantle is keeping a keen eye on Jordan Clark's position at Geelong and remains very interested in trading for the speedster if the opportunity presents. 

Clark has been hesitant to entertain the growing interest in him from rivals and this weekend remained keen to stay at Geelong and fight for his spot in the team. 

The arrival of free agent Isaac Smith from Hawthorn has added even more depth at the Cattery, however, and appears to have complicated his future. 

Clark's name was raised in multiple trade scenarios last week, including a four-club deal that would have landed him at Fremantle. 

The Dockers hold picks 12 and 31 and are also attempting to find a new home for Jesse Hogan, whose situation became no clearer on Sunday after he was linked strongly to Greater Western Sydney. 

Geelong's trade hand shifted on Saturday after the Giants indicated they would match the Cats' offer for free agent Jeremy Cameron, forcing a trade. 

The Cats, who hold picks 13, 15, 20, 37 and 95, may need to move a high-quality player to satisfy the Giants. – Nathan Schmook

Uncontracted quality drawing attention

List managers and player agents continue to express surprise at some of the players waiting on new contracts as the opening to Trade Period on Wednesday approaches. 

Without clarity on list sizes and total player payments, clubs have been forced to hold off on signing players they would ideally like to lock away. For many, the future will become clearer as soon as 2021 list sizes are confirmed.

David Mundy is the most accomplished player waiting on a new deal as the Dockers help Jesse Hogan and Connor Blakely in their search for new clubs. Teammates Lachie Schultz and Brett Bewley are also in limbo at the Dockers.  

Geelong youngster Quinton Narkle has at least four clubs monitoring his situation as he waits for a contract, with the majority of interest coming from Victoria. 

At West Coast, Brendon Ah Chee is a surprising name without a new deal after playing 16 games in 2020. 

Uncontracted premiership ruckman Nathan Vardy is in limbo as Tom Hickey is chased by Sydney. If the contracted Hickey is traded, Vardy will likely be a required player for ruck depth.

Carlton's Matthew Kennedy moved into an inside midfield role in 2020 but is yet to receive an extension after seven games supporting captain Patrick Cripps– Nathan Schmook

The draft's 'fantastic five' shaping trade calls

A 'fantastic five' has emerged in this year's draft group that is influencing how clubs look to use their first-round picks.

Recruiters believe there is now a clear group of five players – Logan McDonald, Riley Thilthorpe, Elijah Hollands, Denver Grainger-Barras and Will Phillips – who have separated themselves from the next tier of the draft class. 

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who is tipped to be a very early selection for the Western Bulldogs, is not included in the group as he will join the club as a Next Generation Academy pick. The 'fantastic five' are all in the open draft pool.

It is why clubs are keen to see if they can package picks to push up the order into that bracket, and also why the clubs with the first five selections (Adelaide, North Melbourne, Sydney, Hawthorn and Gold Coast) could be reluctant to shift back down the draft order even for multiple early selections.

It makes the decision on Adelaide’s compensation pick for Brad Crouch - which the Crows hope could be pick No.2 - even more significant given the ripple effect of an extra pick at that stage would have.

Key forward McDonald finished second in the WAFL goalkicking after an excellent season with Perth's senior side, while Thilthorpe switched between the ruck and key forward role for West Adelaide in the SANFL.

Grainger-Barras showed his capacity as a tall, marking defender, while Victorian pair Hollands and Phillips didn't play this season. 

Hollands, an exciting midfielder/forward, ruptured his ACL in February and was ruled out of 2020 before COVID-19 struck, with the pandemic ending Phillips' hopes of backing up his excellent 2019 campaign as a consistent and damaging midfielder. 

Geelong pair Tanner Bruhn and Oliver Henry are among the prospects who are around the top-five mark, while Archie Perkins will also attract interest early on. – Callum Twomey