Jake Lever is coming out of contract at the end of the year and is no closer to signing with Adelaide for the 2018 season and beyond. Many clubs have been linked with the Adelaide intercepting defender, and the longer he goes without signing, the more clubs that will put their hat in the ring for his services.
The 195cm medium/tall sized defender was drafted with Pick 14 in the 2014 National Draft after playing with the Calder Cannons in the TAC Cup. Lever’s stocks plummeted in his drafting year, as he spent the entirety of it on the sidelines due to a knee reconstruction, and Adelaide considered him a bargain when selecting him.
Lever made his debut for the Crows is Round 6 of 2015, and managed a further 11 games in his debut year. He then went on to play in every game in 2016, including Adelaide’s finals campaign. In 2017, the defender has missed four games due to various niggling injuries, including last week’s match against the Cats.
The Calder Cannon product has been a major reason why Adelaide’s defence is currently ranked second in the competition. His intercept marking has been disruptive to opponents’ forward thrusts and his good decision making has allowed him to develop into a good rebounder off the half-back line.
The 21 year old has slightly improved his statistics from his 2016 season, but his impact on games has been more profound. So far in 2017, he has averaged 16.4 disposals (9.6 of which are intercept disposals) and 6.5 marks per game. His best game came in Round 10 against Fremantle with a 29 disposal and 11 mark display, which helped Adelaide to a 100 point win.
Like many players in 2017, Lever was waiting for the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to be agreed upon before making any decisions on his playing future. He has had informal conversations with Adelaide, but has not publically stated that he wants to remain with the club for the 2018 season and beyond.
His team mates are keen for him to sign on which was highlighted when Brodie Smith pranked him by getting him to sign a golf score card that also stated ‘I will stay at Crows’.
Why He Stays
The Crows are currently sitting atop of the AFL ladder with the best percentage in the competition, and a genuine premiership contender. If Adelaide can’t win it all this year, the team is still young and should remain in contention for a few years.
His job security is undeniable, and he plays in a very settled back half which includes All-Australian players Daniel Talia and Brodie Smith, as well as other rising stars such as Rory Laird and Jake Kelly. This would make it hard to leave a close group of players with good chemistry.
The new CBA is now in place, so there is now more wriggle room in Adelaide’s salary cap which can be used to secure Lever’s signature at market value.
Why He Goes
The most obvious reason is that he is a Victorian and there are possibly 10 clubs in Melbourne that would be interested in signing him at an inflated price to lure him back home. Teams like Melbourne, North Melbourne, Collingwood, Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn would be ideal destinations for a player with his skill set.
There is also the possibility, albeit small that Lever is part of a trade that sees Adelaide secure another premium midfielder that they weren’t able to obtain in last year’s trade period in Bryce Gibbs.