The Broncos have been urged to consider off-contract Sharks half Shaun Johnson as a key signing for next season.
Johnson is one of several prolific playmakers yet to commit to their respective clubs for 2022 and could be the next Cronulla veteran to depart the Shire.
It is understood that the Sharks have tabled a $400,000 deal to Johnson, a figure less than half of his current contract with Cronulla.
Teammate Chad Townsend was the first Cronulla player out the door in the post-John Morris era after signing a three-year deal with North Queensland from 2022.
Many other key figures at the Sharks are likely to depart, with Johnson among several names with clouded futures.
League-wide the halfback stocks are set for a merry-go-round, with the likes of Mitch Moses, Adam Reynolds, Tom Dearden and Ash Taylor all unsigned for next season.
— ZeroTackle.com (@zerotackle) April 24, 2021
Cronulla are reportedly in the race for Reynolds’ signature, while Dearden is tipped to depart Red Hill in favour of joining Townsend at the Cowboys, with Newcastle great Matty Johns suggesting the Broncos should look into luring Johnson north of the Tweed to aid their troubling playmaking crop.
“If I was the Broncos, I would go in hard for Shaun Johnson, he’s the player they need,” Johns said.
“He told me a week ago, he hasn’t had an offer (from a rival club).
“Cronulla have offered him $400k.
“I can’t believe the Broncos haven’t bumped him and told him, ‘You’re our man’, they could get him.”
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Andrew Johns added that the Broncos were a strong halves partnership away from being a finals contender.
“I was at Penrith v Brisbane last Thursday and if the Broncos tomorrow got Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai they’d make the top eight,” Andrew Johns added.
“They (Brisbane) have got a really good forward pack, there’s some big blokes out there.
“If they had two world class halves, they’d make the top eight. Imagine as a halfback playing behind Payne Haas and Tevita Pangai Jr, you’d be licking your lips every week.”
Broncos coach Kevin Walters has shuffled his starting five-eighth and halfbacks throughout this season, with Dearden, Brodie Croft and Anthony Milford all pairing up at some point this year.
Milford has been demoted to the QLD cup in recent weeks and looks to have potentially played his last game with the Broncos.
An off-contract Broncos star is reportedly unlikely to be offered a new deal. And two Sydney clubs are showing interest in him 👀
— ZeroTackle.com (@zerotackle) April 23, 2021
The former Raiders playmaker is set to open up $1 million in cap space should he depart Brisbane at season’s end.
Johnson makes his long-awaited return to senior level this weekend against Canterbury after battling an Achilles injury sustained in Round 19 last year.