Lance Franklin’s future continues to hover over the Hawthorn Football Club like a dark rain cloud with numerous teams circling the forward.
Franklin’s decision to put off contract talks with the club until the end of the season seems ominous.
In recent seasons, Gary Ablett, Brendan Goddard, Tom Scully and Quinten Lynch have said similar things and left their clubs for greener (or gold depending on what bills they are being paid in) pastures.
It appears like every week, newspapers are breaking stories of what he is being offered by the GWS or Garry Lyon from Footy Classified is urging Carlton to break the bank for his services.
Also swirling around the issue is the contents of a meeting that happened in Las Vegas between Hawks coach Alistair Clarkson (who had travelled to America specifically for this meeting) and Franklin during the off-season.
While the contents have never been divulged and there has been no confirmation, rumours persist that Franklin was not happy with the timing and the subject.
Not long after, he surprised many by putting off negotiations until the end of this season.
If Hawthorn loses Lance Franklin at the end of this campaign, it will be disappointing on a superficial level as the club will lose a profitable talent.
Hawthorn since 2004 (when Hawthorn drafted him after Richmond passed him up for Richard Tambling) have built their brand around this magnificent player.
He is handsomely marketable, dedicated to football and gifted.
While he loves being social, he has not landed himself in any major trouble despite the odd incident.
But deep down, would it actually be beneficial for the Hawthorn Football Club?
I know it seems stupid, but think about my proposition from outside the square.
GWS have consistently said that the number one draft pick is on the table if the deal is right (i.e. it is willing to trade the opportunity to secure the best young football talent in the land).
The number one draft pick according to most experts is Tom Boyd, a 199cm man mountain who can take a mark and kick a few goals.
This opportunity also comes at a time where Hawthorn is reaching a crossroads.
The team that Clarko moulded is approaching 10 years as a unit.
In 2014, Sam Mitchell, Brent Guerra Brian Lake and Michael Osborne will be 32 while Luke Hodge, Shaun Burgoyne and Josh Gibson will be 30.
All are within 5 years of retirement, all are bloody good players, all are crucial to the Hawks set up and all will leave a big hole when they hang up the boots.
Hawthorn has to come a time where the next 10-year plan needs to be developed.
If Hawthorn comes to a situation where Lance Franklin expresses a desire to leave and GWS are willing to trade away good draft picks, I believe it they must consider making the trade for the betterment of the club.
If completed, it is a win-win situation for all parties involved.
Hawthorn would get an injection of youth, space in the salary cap, and every club in the land will be quaking at the thought of a Hawk raid on their nests.
Up north in ‘falafel land’, GWS would get the marquee player they desperately need while Lance Franklin would get the payday he probably deserves.
Hawthorn fans may feel sick at the prospect of doing the unthinkable, but the club is no stranger to the big calls.
In 2001 it traded one of its most promising talents in Trent Croad to Fremantle in exchange for the number one draft pick.
The result; Luke Hodge was drafted to Hawthorn where he became a 200 game premiership player and one of the most inspirational football leaders in modern times.
(On a sidenote, Hawthorn also got Trent Croad back to the club where he was a valuable defender in their 2008 premiership team.)
Hawthorn fans may also believe that losing Franklin would curtail their forward potency but again statistics show otherwise.
When Lance Franklin plays, Hawthorn wins 67% of their matches.
When Lance Franklin doesn’t play, that winning percentage increases to 75%.
You only have to look at Saturday’s match against Port Adelaide where sans Franklin, the Hawks other power forwards Roughead and Gunston kicked 5 goals each.
Gunston flourishes without Buddy and Roughead is arguably in better form than the number 23.
Players will always come and go, but clubs go on forever.
It may be blasphemy, it may cause a riot in Glenferrie, but if Hawthorn are a club that that are thinking about the next five years and not just tomorrow, they should consider doing the unthinkable.