Essendon recruit Ben McKay is set to be the highest-paid AFL player in 2024.
McKay joined the Bombers as a free agent during the trade period after seven years at North Melbourne.
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He has signed a six-year contract believed to be worth up to $850,000 a season.
The 25-year-old was one of four big signings made by Essendon, with free agents Jade Gresham and Todd Goldstein also joining the club, along with Xavier Duursma.
But McKay comes on the biggest contract with his deal netting North Melbourne pick No.3 as compensation.
Ben McKay joined Essendon in the off-season. Credit: Getty
While the Bombers splashed plenty of cash in the off-season, they still had more room to move and are positioning themselves to have a war chest for more raids in the future.
AFL Media reports the club has front-ended McKay’s contract so he will earn nearly $1.5 million in 2024, making him the AFL’s highest earner.
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The front-ended deal means Essendon will comply with salary cap rules that stipulate each club must use at least 95 per cent.
With the new collective bargaining agreement set to result in salary cap increases in the coming years, the Bombers will still have cash to splash in the coming years.
On the flipside, GWS Giants defender Nick Haynes will also be among the highest-paid AFL players as he enters the final year of his back-ended deal.
Haynes signed a five-year extension back in 2019 and is reportedly set to earn $1.2 million next year.
It’s an extraordinary salary for a player who was left out of the Giants team for the semi-final and preliminary final.
McKay played 71 games for the Roos, but only featured in eight wins across his seven years at the club.
“I’m extremely humbled to start a fresh chapter in my journey at Essendon,” McKay said after sealing his move to the Bombers.
“The opportunity that has presented itself at Essendon is something I’m very grateful for. With Brad working hard to create a world-class football program, it’s something that I really want to be a part of and contribute strongly to, in the pursuit of taking this proud and powerful club back to where it belongs.
“I’m eager to play alongside and work with guys like Jordan Ridley, Andy McGrath, Mason Redman and Jayden Laverde in the backline, as well as working under coaches such as Daniel Giansiracusa, Blake Caracella and Dale Tapping.
“I would like to thank everybody at North Melbourne for my eight seasons at Arden Street. They have been nothing but supportive across my journey and wish them the very best moving forward.”
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