2022 Free Agency Analysis: Zaine Cordy, St Kilda

Welcome to the 2022 Free Agency & Trade Period analysis series. Over the next fortnight, the plan is to look at every player heading to a new club. It’s not going to be a ‘who won the trade’ series, but rather a look at how players fit into existing setups, or what changes they may force.

Tinkering around the edges, St Kilda have prised Zaine Cordy away from the Western Bulldogs with a three-year deal; reports suggesting the third year was required to better the Bulldogs’ two-season offer.

After the Saints’ off-season list moves, delisting Darragh Joyce, they were short of key defensive depth. Cordy plugs that hole.

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The defensive unit was clearly St Kilda’s best line in 2022. The trio of Dougal Howard/Callum Wilkie/Josh Battle* should head into 2023 three of the first selected for how they work together as a unit.

(*This dates quickly if St Kilda want to change Battle around again. Please, just please leave him in the same position for more than five minutes.)

For Cordy to play regularly, one of two things have to happen:

a) Be an improvement on any of Howard, Wilkie or Battle (requiring a bit of structure reshuffling if he replaces the latter two)
b) Drafted in to cover an injury

Option a) is unlikely, but b) is always a possibility. Cordy becomes the first cab off the rank as key defensive depth.

As a lockdown defender, if Cordy plays it’ll be on the biggest key forward, allowing the remaining two of Howard/Wilkie/Battle to play on less threatening types.

With some convincing, you can talk yourself into a world where Cordy is entrusted with a pure defensive role, maybe meaning the other three can play with more freedom.

But the reality is St Kilda’s first choice key defenders are a level above the Bulldogs’. If Cordy plays ahead of any of the aforementioned trio and injury isn’t involved, then something has gone wrong.

Elsewhere, depending on Max Heath’s rate of development, Cordy could also be third choice ruck on St Kilda’s depth chart behind Rowan Marshall and Tom Campbell.

Whether the Saints needed to commit three years for a depth player, when they have far greater priorities, is a question that can be easily answered. But assuming the monetary value is relatively low it’s a move which has minimal risk, keeping the status quo.

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If you’ve missed any of the Free Agency & Trade Analysis posts, here’s where to catch up:

Friday 30th
Karl Amon, Hawthorn

Monday 3rd
Jayden Hunt, West Coast | Bobby Hill, Collingwood

Tuesday 4th
Blake Acres, Carlton | Liam Jones, Western Bulldogs | Daniel McStay, Collingwood

Wednesday 5th
Griffin Logue & Darcy Tucker, North Melbourne | Ben Long, Gold Coast

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