The Parramatta Eels will head to this year's edition of the November 1 free agency opening window with less questions than most clubs, although, also less answers.

The key answer for the Eels is why 2023 went as badly as it did. Coming off a grand final appearance in 2022, anything less than a top eight finish in 2023 was always going to be a dismal failure for the team in blue and gold, but that's exactly where the season ended up.

That has left Brad Arthur scrambling for answers and likely under plenty of pressure oif another similar campaign is to transpire in 2024.

Ultimately, there isn't many waves he is going to be able to make on the transfer market either. Parramatta already have 21 players locked in for 2025, and not a great deal of wiggle room on the salary cap given the amount of money they have invested into the likes of Clint Gutherson, Dylan Brown, Mitchell Moses, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Junior Paulo and Ryan Matterson.

But there are some pressing needs they must attend to, mostly in the backline, and more importantly in the way they do their business.

Current squad for 2025
Dylan Brown, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Bryce Cartwright, Matt Doorey, Haze Dunster, Wiremu Greig, Clint Gutherson, Brendan Hands, Morgan Harper, J'maine Hopgood, Shaun Lane, Joey Lussick, Toni Mataele, Ryan Matterson, Mitchell Moses, Joe Ofahengaue, Junior Paulo, Will Penisini, Sean Russell, Maika Sivo, Kelma Tuilagi

Current best 17 for 2025
1. Clint Gutherson
2. Sean Russell
3. Morgan Harper
4. Will Penisini
5. Maika Sivo
6. Dylan Brown
7. Mitchell Moses
8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
9. Brendan Hands
10. Junior Paulo
11. Shaun Lane
12. Ryan Matterson
13. J'maine Hopgood
14. Joey Lussick
15. Bryce Cartwright
16. Joe Ofahengaue
17. Wiremu Greig

Players not in 17: Matt Doorey, Haze Dunster, Toni Mataele, Kelma Tuilagi

Players off-contract at end of 2024
Daejarn Asi, Makahesi Makatoa, Jirah Momoisea, Ofahiki Ogden, Ky Rodwell, Bailey Simonsson, Blaize Talagi (player option)

Here are five players available to negotiate on November 1 from outside of the club the Eels could target for 2025 and beyond.


2. Tesi Niu

On the topic of backs who can line up in multiple positions, but also backs who may not be worth quite as much on the salary cap, Tesi Niu would be a great option if May becomes too expensive or unavailable by signing elsewhere.

I'm fully expecting the Dolphins to try and lock Niu up, and frankly, in a hurry, but that doesn't mean they will.

Niu, who began his career at the Broncos, wasn't set to be a major player for the Dolphins in their inaugural season, but proved his versatility, spending a lot of time on the wing, finding the tryline regularly and improving his defence out of sight after the legendary mentorship of Wayne Bennett.

That doesn't mean he is suddenly the best winger in the competition, but he has made his mark, and with the ability and desire to be playing either centre or fullback - two positions he may not get much time in at Redcliffe - a move elsewhere could be on the cards.

Parramatta have often reportedly expressed their desire for an X-Factor player who can play fullback, potentially taking some heat off Clint Gutherson.

Niu can do that and more, and could be a very good option for Arthur's recruitment team.