Newcastle's strong start to the 2022 season could be buoyed by a substantial amount of free salary space for the year ahead.
With the Knights understood to have north of $700,000 in their kitty, the Hunter club will have to weigh up how they best use their remaining finances.
The Samoan international will require assault charges to be cleared in order to make an NRL return, having seen his move to South Sydney terminated for this season.
The playmaking pair aren't squeezing a significant amount of the salary this season, one of several reasons why the club has an estimated wiggle room in the vicinity of $700,000, according to The Newcastle Herald.
It is understood that the Knights will look to lock away the in-form Clifford past his current contract expiry of 2023, while Milford remains in the frame for a Newcastle jersey.
The Knights are also believed to be setting their sights on English pair Will Pryce and Kai Pearce-Paul, with a portion of this season's financial leftovers potentially being used for the ladder leader's 2023 planning.
O'Brien and recruitment manager Clint Zammit will also have a number of internal list calls to make throughout this season, with Phoenix Crossland, Edrick Lee, Brayden Musgrove, Jirah Momoisea, Simi Sasagi, Pasami Saulo, Sauso Sue and Leo Thompson among those currently off-contract.
Like Clifford, Thompson's impressive start to the season is likely to warrant early discussions with the Knights in regards to his future in the NRL.
Trio Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Tyson Frizell and Kalyn Ponga all currently hold player option clauses in their contract for 2023, with the latter having no set deadline given the flexibility of his future extends into 2024.
Ponga will be absent from the Knights' Round 3 clash with reigning premiers Penrith on Saturday afternoon, with Tex Hoy taking on the fullback duties.
A win at Carrington Park would see the Knights extend their place atop the NRL ladder, having already secured wins over the Roosters and Tigers across the opening fortnight of the season.