The seeds of Lance Franklin's stunning $10million, nine-year deal with Sydney were sewn almost 12 months ago – before the Swans had even signed Kurt Tippett.
In what is shaping as the most astonishing recruiting coup in the game's history, the Swans blew cross-town rival Greater Western Sydney's six-year, $7.2million bid out of the water on Tuesday with a deal that shocked the entire football industry.
Should the move go ahead, the Swans will have a $2million goal square pairing of Tippett and Franklin that is the envy of every club in the league.
The Swans were approached by Franklin's management weeks after the club's premiership success last year and told the superstar forward was keen to engineer a move north to a Sydney club.
The Swans, who were then in discussions with Tippett regarding a four-year deal worth a reported $3.5million, were unsure how they would fit Franklin into their salary cap.
But it became a more realistic option after the retirements of premiership trio Jude Bolton, Marty Mattner and Mitch Morton, which freed up space in the Swans' salary cap.
The impending departure of Jesse White, who is seeking a trade to a Victorian club, will further ease the squeeze, though the future of ruckman Shane Mumford is now clouded.
Sydney will table the offer with the AFL on Friday at the start of the free agency period. Hawthorn then has the right to match the deal.
Franklin is understood to be keen to move away from the fishbowl existence of being an AFL star in Melbourne to Sydney, where he believes it will be less likely that he is recognised.
The long-term tenure of Franklin's contract – which astonished the Giants, who described it as ''nonsensical'' – has been driven largely out of salary cap necessity.
Franklin will be 35 at the end of the 2022 season when the mooted $1.1million-a-year deal expires. The last player to be offered such a lengthy contract was Alastair Lynch, who was lured to Brisbane from Fitzroy at the end of 1993 with a 10-year deal worth between an estimated $1.9million to $2million. Lynch played until he was 36.
But the length of Franklin’s proposed contract allows the Swans to backend payments so more can be paid in years when the club is not under as much pressure in the salary cap.
It’s understood the Franklin deal will not have any impact on the careers of veterans such as Adam Goodes or Ryan O’Keefe, nor will it affect the Swans’ ability to honour Sam Reid’s long-term deal, which ties him to the club until the end of the 2017 season.
The Swans’ contract trumps the $7.2million offer made by the Giants, who withdrew from the race on Tuesday afternoon after being told by Franklin’s management of his wish to head to the SCG.
The development will add genuine bad blood to the Swans-Giants rivalry and has also created a furore over the AFL’s controversial cost-of-living allowance for the two Sydney teams.
The Swans have been told by the AFL ‘‘they may need to accommodate this proposed contract in an environment in which the cost-of-living allowance may be altered or removed altogether’’.
It’s believed the Swans thought they would be unable to match any offer in pure dollar terms from the Giants, so opted for a deal which would give Franklin extra security.
Although Sydney’s offer to Franklin is believed to be on a par with what Hawthorn can offer per year, the premiers will struggle to match the length.
A possible sweetener for the Hawks is their increased chance of now luring Mumford, who is also of considerable interest to the Giants.
The Giants insist they were not blindsided by the Swans’ bid, though had believed they were the only team in talks with Franklin.