An NRL captain off-contract at the end of 2023 is reportedly being shopped to rival clubs.
While ordinarily players off-contract at the end of the 2023 season would need to wait until November 1 in 2022 to negotiate with other clubs, there is nothing stopping other clubs from giving a player permission to negotiate early for a release ahead of the contract's end, or for the club themselves to investigate whether interest exists in the player.
According to a The Daily Telegraph report, a captain on a "big-money deal" is unlikely to see out the final year of his contract, being 2023.
That being said, the player will remain with his current team for 2022.
Looking through the various NRL squad lists, there are only three captains off-contract at the end of 2023, being Ben Hunt at the St George Illawarra Dragons, Josh Jackson at the Canterbury Bulldogs and Daly Cherry-Evans at the Manly Sea Eagles.
Both Hunt and Cherry-Evans have been rumoured to be on north of $1 million per season, meaning they easily fit into the "big money" bracket, while Jackson himself is on a reported $750,000 per season.
Hunt may be the likeliest of the trio to be departing. The Dragons have both Talatau Amone and Jayden Sullivan pushing for first-grade time in the halves, while Hunt's time at the club has been far from a success, with the Red V making just a single semi-final to date.
On a reported seven figures, the Dragons attention has turned to youth, with Tyrrel Sloan also set to play a pivotal role in first-grade during 2022 at fullback, and it could all spell the end of Hunt's time at the Dragons.
The Bulldogs would, on the surface, seem unlikely to move Jackson on. He has been the heart and soul of the club for years, and hasn't ever dropped his level of performance despite the enormous struggles the men from Belmore have been through.
A lock forward who will run and tackle himself to a standstill for the blue and white, Jackson is the Bulldogs.
However, the club have found themselves in something of a salary cap pressure point thanks to ten big signings for 2022, including the likes of Paul Vaughan, Tevita Pangai Junior, Josh Addo-Carr and Matt Burton among others.
Jackson, at 30 years of age, could find himself on the outer, and is still at a level of performance where just about every other club in the competition would love to take him off Canterbury's hands.
Cherry-Evans, despite his mammoth price tag, seems to be going nowhere. Approaching the twilight of his career, Manly have publically declared he will be a Sea Eagles for life if he wants to be.
That all means he would appear the unlikeliest of the trio to depart their club, despite being on the most money.