The Adam Cerra Blues: Should Carlton Bite the Bullet?
The silly season is back.
The Home and Away season is done, and whilst we still get a month of football to enjoy, we’re entering that time of year where any sort of intel is worth gold.
One potential trade that doesn’t need any intel is Adam Cerra to Carlton. Cerra wants out, Carlton wants Cerra, and according to nearly every news report, the Blues, apparently, have the salary cap to pull it off.
Whether it be pick 6, Sam Petrevski-Seton or the mystical Pre-Season Draft, you would think that Carlton can get any deal over the line.
Now, there's no doubt that Cerra is an unbelievable player, a budding superstar in fact. However, nuance and context are perhaps more important than the player’s ability itself.
While there are clear pros and clear cons to this situation, this is why Adam Cerra’s potential move to Carlton mightn't be all sunshine and rainbows.
How would Cerra fit in at Carlton?
We first need to acknowledge just how good of a player Cerra is.
There has been plenty of talk around “Carlton paying 750k+ a year for an average player”, but Cerra, at 21, is already a star of the competition.
Playing in a young Fremantle midfield, he has had to shoulder plenty of burden regarding taggers and the best players in the comp. A smooth moving outside player, he complements Cale Sarong and Andrew Brayshaw's bullishness with class and composure.
Cerra provides defensive running and tenacity which doesn't allow him to fade out of games. While he doesn't hit the scoreboard as effectively as his midfield counterparts, his tactical awareness and football smarts set him apart from the rest. He ranked elite in inside 50's this year with 5 per game, as well as above-average for metres gained and effective kicks with 406.7 and 8.4 respectively. He uses his tank to full effect and spreads brilliantly, as seen through his 5.2 marks a game, in a side which ranked third lowest for marks per game.
Now, how does he fit in at Carlton? Well, very well actually.
Carlton have been heavily criticised this year with their lack of effort and 2-way running, especially from their midfielders. Being continually punished in transition, Cerra could help with that balance. As well as this, Carlton got beaten on the outside more than anyone else this year, ranking 2nd last for uncontested possessions. With Cerra averaging 15 uncontested possessions per game - ranking above average for midfielders this year. This again could provide much-needed balance in a midfield that is very one dimensional. While not being as clearance dominant as someone like Cripps or Walsh, the balance that he could provide can allow those players to flourish in a role where they are more comfortable. Cerra is by far not a perfect player, but he is a player who can allow the Blues to find balance in their midfield, and his defensive-minded attitude can help with a group who conceded the third most amount of clearances this year.
So, with all the on-field and tactical side out of the way, let's look at how Carlton could get this done, and whether this could cause more harm in the process.
The biggest hand that Carlton have is Pick 6. They aren't shy from giving away a high draft pick for a high in demand player, coming as recently as Adam Saad last year with pick 8, and as far back as Chris Judd, giving away Pick 3 and Josh Kennedy, so this option could easily be explored.
Another option that could be entertained, in collaboration with pick 6, is adding another player to the mix. That being, perhaps, Sam Petrevski-Seton, Zac Fisher or even Paddy Dow, all players who have massive ceilings and are valuable commodities for the Blues. It would be risky, even more so, considering how good a player Josh Kennedy became with the Eagles. The Blues also have Pick 25, which could also be thrown into the mix, as well as the Pre-Season Draft, something Blues fans have plenty of experience in.
Looking at the money side of things, Cerra’s current offer, which he reportedly turned down, was 750k per year, on a 4-year deal. Assuming that the Blues would offer something close, even more than that to secure him, how does this look for the players who are already on the list?
Sam Walsh and Harry McKay both have their contracts expiring soon, with Walsh at the end of 2022, and McKay the year after. Despite Cripps taking a reduced salary on his recent 6-year deal, and Jack Martin’s salary being drastically reduced as his heavily front-ended deal ends, the Blues would have to be very tight for money should this deal go through.
Is it worth importing another player from a different club on big money and hoping it works out? Or should the Blues take Pick 6 to the draft, and pick a kid who they can mould into the player they want?
Should the Blues Bite the Bullet?
Should Carlton go hell for leather, and secure one of the best young kids in the competition… probably.
However, there are a lot more cons than at first seems.
The Dockers are clearly in a better position both on and off the pitch than the Blues, with their future looking surprisingly brighter as well, so you do have to question how ambitious the young man is. Cerra perhaps wins Carlton a couple more games, and perhaps more importantly, takes away a ‘right-now’ asset from a direct rival.
However, the culture issue that has plagued the Blues in recent times has something to do with the constant importing of players from other clubs, and not going to the draft for their depth and competition for positions. 15 of the Blues players got drafted by a different club, and at least 12 all of them are in the best 22 when everyone’s fit. Do the pro’s outway the con’s? Well, that depends on what you believe the Blues should be prioritising.
There’s no doubt Cerra is a gun, and no doubt the Blues need another midfielder, but that doesn’t make the potential acquisition so straightforward. Then again, what is at Princess Park at the moment?
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