Manly and Cronulla power-brokers met with the 28-year old on Thursday, with Newcastle prepared for negotiations on Friday.
The Storm have sensationally emerged as genuine contenders to secure his services, in a phenomenal plot twist, after Cooper Cronk ultimately forced Pearce out of Bondi.
Smith convincingly discussed Melbourne’s culture – the opportunity to join some of the world’s best players – and the chance to go back-to-back with a Blues halfback in the side.
An escape to Melbourne would also ensure the eradication of his constant scrutiny in Sydney.
“We’d be crazy not to look at the situation where we could get Mitchell Pearce for next year,” Smith told reporters from Kangaroos camp on Thursday.
“If he was keen to come to Melbourne I’d certainly say, ‘We’d love to have you’.”
If Pearce was to join Melbourne, he’d have to take a massive pay-cut. After re-signing Billy Slater and their illusive Fijian wingers, the Storm barely have enough room in their salary cap to spare.
However, the opportunity to play alongside Smith, Slater, Cameron Munster, Jesse Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi, Nelson Asofa-Solomona – and coached by Craig Bellamy – could prove all too appealing for the off-contract no.7.