According to veteran scribe Phil 'Buzz' Rothfield, the axing of the three highly-paid stars has reportedly freed up $2 million of salary cap space.
Rothfield also stated that in-coming Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon informed the three former internationals of the club's decision within the last 24 hours, giving them ample time to find new clubs for next season.
The players spoke to their teammates at training on Thursday afternoon to inform them of the developments.
In alternate moves, the Sharks have signed highly-regarded Melbourne Storm utility Nicho Hynes and St George-Illawarra utility forward Cameron McInnes, with Matt Moylan poised to partner Hynes in the halves for Cronulla.
Negotiations between Cronulla and Moylan regarding an extension are reportedly underway , as it’s anticipated that Moylan, 29, will be offered a 12-month contract to stay at the Sharks and partner Hynes, 24, next season.
Hynes was targeted by Fitzgibbon to play halfback at the Sharks having played the majority of his junior football as a playmaker.
Rothfield also explained that Moylan, who has played 10 of 12 matches this year, has spoken with Sharks officials about wanting to finish his career at Cronulla and how eager he is to be part of the club’s rebuild.
Moylan’s contract offer will be similar to what the club was originally planning to offer Johnson. However, those talks broke down after the Sharks were unwilling to give the Kiwi international and his management the two-year-deal worth around $1.2 million that they were supposedly asking for.
Johnson has also been linked to a switch to rugby union and would follow compatriot Roger Tuivasa-Scheck down the same path if this remains his current thought process