Hawthorn apparently saw this day coming. The day when their vaunted midfield began the slide towards inevitable (and collective) retirement. Mitchell, Lewis, Hodge, Burgoyne; these are a men of a certain age, an advancing age.
The real decision for the Hawks would have been who to retain, and who to offload. Hodge was likely off limits as the triple premiership captain – he deserved to write his own closing narrative. Burgoyne is the most talented at present, seemingly ageless and able to turn a game at the drop of a hat.
That left Mitchell and Lewis, two pack-hardened warriors often joined in arms at the bottom of the contest. Clarkson allegedly reached out to Mitchell a month or so ago about a possible move west to play then coach for the Eagles. At a similar time, management approached Lewis to look for a new club.
Once the Mitchell deal broke publicly it moved quickly, and the Lewis move went on the backburner. Eventually, the Hawks backflipped on letting Lewis go (to Melbourne), angering the player in the process. You know what they said about best laid plans…
Sam Mitchell is 34 this year, and HPN sees that any more football that he plays is over the expectation for the average career – even for an elite player. The HPN formula adjusts for contract length for players over the average retirement age, assuming that any such contract would be their last. The contract Mitchell has signed is for one year, but Mitchell has floated playing on if all goes well. We’re going to ignore that possibility for now, but even if he did it wouldn’t change the needle much on this trade.
As you can see above, Mitchell has been traded for essentially nothing – slight improvements in the third and fourth rounds and a fifth round pick that would likely be used on a rookie or a speculative youngster. But for a guy who is likely to only play a year more of footy, that’s probably pretty fair.
Verdict: A fair trade all around.