How much do you pay for a player (O’Meara) who hasn’t played in two years? #AFLtrades

It’s fair to say that the Gold Coast has struggled to both retain young players and to subsequently build their list. Since 2012, the Suns have gotten rid of players like Caddy, Hickey, Bennell, Dixon and Smith for players like Rosa, Currie, Hallahan, Lonergan and Martin in return. When compared to GWS, who turned Adams into Shaw, Tyson into Kelly and pick 35 into Mumford, the Suns’ effort pales into comparison. They may have a chance to rectify that this year.

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Jaeger O’Meara is a little harder to value than the average player for the HPN system. He has played 22, 22, 0, and 0 games since debuting in 2013. O’Meara won the Rising Star Award, was widely rated as one of the best young players in the game, and looked on track for superstardom. Then he was felled with a pre-season patellar tendon rupture and has not played since.

The patellar tendon rupture (PTR) is a rare injury that is at least as serious as an ACL tear, and it is season-ending at a minimum. There is a very real and serious question about O’Meara’s ability to return to his early output from either a quality or quantity standpoint. A study of NFL players with the injury found that 19 of 24 players returned to play a single senior game, which is about 80% of players ever playing again. Higher draft picks suffering from a PTR came back more often than lower draft picks.

We couldn’t find anything on whether players returned to the same levels that they reached before the injury, but those who did return played an average of 45 more games (about 3 seasons or about 80% of an average NFL player’s career). That sounds low but it suggests returning players can have reasonably fruitful careers. The injury also has a low recurrence rate (1 in 24). We’re not doctors, we just wanted to illustrate the serious question about durability and impairment which are a risk a club is taking in signing O’Meara. The fact that Hawthorn’s elite medical facilities are being cited as a reason for O’Meara’s decision tells us a lot about where he is at.

He is being valued in our system on the basis of his draft pick, and with an assumption about career length based on established elite player credentials (in winning the Rising Star Award). He was pick 1 in the 2011 mini-draft. Given that it was a one-third-sized draft pool (ie, players born January to April) we have assigned it the value of pick 3 (Crouch and Hogan are valued at pick 6 for the same reason, incidentally).

For Hawthorn to meet O’Meara’s price the Hawks appear to be desperately seeking an extra first round draft pick, as per the pick fire sale discussed in a previous post. The Hawks are also reported to be pursuing pick 21 from Brisbane via a trade that has yet to fully materialise. If they swap 10 and 21 directly for O’Meara they’re overpaying for him, but only slightly.

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Verdict: If Hawthorn really want to take a risk on O’Meara, they’ll have to pay a bit to do so.

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