The Parramatta Eels are facing an enormous fight to keep the core of their roster together, with a contract crunch ahead.
The Eels have all of Dylan Brown, Clint Gutherson, Reed Mahoney, Ryan Matterson, Isaiah Papali'i and Junior Paulo off-contract at the end of 2022, as well as other players like Marata Niukore, Jakob Arthur, Haze Dunster, Oregon Kaufusi and Tom Opacic.
SEE ALSO: The full Eels contract list
The Australian's Brent Read is reporting that the first six of those players are all yet to make substantial progress with a new contract at the club, telling Triple M Radio that the club have some turbulent times ahead.
The pressure on the club is only building following a 28-0 loss at the hands of the Sydney Roosters last week, putting their top four spot in peril.
"Well, I think they have some rocky waters coming up. Some turbulent times. They have a really tough draw coming up, and are in real danger of slipping out of the top four," Read said.
"On top of all that, you've got the November 1 deadline looming which is the date that players in their final year of deals can start to start talking formally about contracts.
"You look at the list of players available to start talking about contracts from November 1: Dylan Brown, Clint Gutherson, Reed Mahoney, Ryan Matterson, Isaiah Papali'i, Junior Paulo. Conservatively, I'd say you're talking about $4 million worth of talent. If Parramatta can't lock them down in 10 or 11 weeks, they will be on the radar of a whole heap of other clubs.
It's understood Parramatta have not made progress with any of the six.
Dylan Brown has an option in his contract for 2023, but has already reportedly reached out to other clubs, while Parramatta's salary cap could also be an issue in keeping all six of the players.
"Dylan Brown has an option in his contract for 2023, so it'll be up to him whether he takes it up. His manager has already sent his name on a list to see if he can generate some interest," Read said.
"Last time Clint Gutherson did his deal with Parramatta, it was played out publically in the media and things got a little tense. He took less to stay, and I'm not sure he will do that again."
The Eels will take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs this weekend on Friday evening.