JAMES Frawley is free to leave Melbourne at the end of this season with the key defender listed as one of this year's unrestricted free agents.
The AFL released its official list of 2014 free agents on Tuesday, and it would have surprised some that Frawley's name did not appear among the list of nine restricted free agents.
Frawley appeared to satisfy the restricted free agent criteria as an eighth-year player who was eligible to explore free agency for the first time and entering the final year of a lucrative four-year contract.
However, AFL.com.au understands Frawley's contract was heavily front-ended, meaning that while he has been one of the highest-paid players at Melbourne since 2011, his earnings this year place him outside the club's top 25 per cent highest paid players (a requirement of restricted free agency).
So where Melbourne could have kept Frawley as a restricted free agent simply by matching a rival offer, the defender is now free to leave at the end of this season if he decides an opposition offer is too good to refuse.
However, it is worth noting that since free agency was introduced ahead of the 2012 season, no club has matched an offer made to one of their restricted free agents.
Frawley put off contract talks with Melbourne in February, saying he wanted to reassess the direction the club was heading in, including its progress on finding a successor for coach Paul Roos, before recommitting.
This year's restricted free agents are headed by Fremantle's David Mundy, Carlton's Bryce Gibbs and Collingwood's Ben Reid, with North Melbourne the only club to have two, Todd Goldstein and Lachlan Hansen.
Some of the unrestricted free agents likely to attract opposition interest are Garrick Ibbotson (Fremantle), Tyson Goldsack (Collingwood), Matt Rosa (West Coast) and James Gwilt (St Kilda).
The Western Bulldogs have the most free agents this year with six, followed West Coast, St Kilda and North Melbourne, all with five.
Restricted free agents
David Mackay (Adelaide Crows); Bryce Gibbs (Carlton); Ben Reid (Collingwood); Heath Hocking (Essendon); David Mundy (Fremantle); Todd Goldstein, Lachlan Hansen (North Melbourne); Shannon Hurn (West Coast); Shaun Higgins (Western Bulldogs).
Unrestricted free agents
Jason Porplyzia, Ben Rutten (Adelaide Crows); Jonathan Brown, Ash McGrath (Brisbane Lions); Michael Jamison, Kade Simpson, Jarrad Waite (Carlton); Nick Maxwell, Tyson Goldsack (Collingwood); Dustin Fletcher, Leroy Jetta, Jason Winderlich (Essendon); Garrick Ibbotson, Luke McPharlin, Matthew Pavlich (Fremantle); Corey Enright, James Kelly (Geelong Cats); Brad Sewell (Hawthorn); James Frawley, Lynden Dunn (Melbourne); Leigh Adams, Michael Firrito, Brent Harvey (North Melbourne); Domenic Cassisi, Kane Cornes, Tom Logan, Paul Stewart (Port Adelaide); Shane Edwards, Jake King, Chris Newman (Richmond); Sam Fisher, Jarryn Geary, James Gwilt, Lenny Hayes, Clint Jones (St Kilda); Adam Goodes, Nick Malceski, Ryan O’Keefe, Lewis Roberts-Thomson (Sydney Swans); Sam Butler, Dean Cox, Darren Glass, Matt Rosa (West Coast); Matthew Boyd, Daniel Giansiracusa, Dale Morris, Robert Murphy, Tom Williams (Western Bulldogs).