Jarryd Hayne may have given up on signing with Parramatta, but the club hasn’t given up signing him just yet.
The Eels are in a salary cap bind that has left them with just $200,000 to offer Hayne. However, that pain will be short lived, with the club in the process of overhauling its roster management to ensure it doesn’t squander the $4 million war chest it has to spend on players from 2020.
Uncertain future: Parramatta hasn’t given up hope of signing Jarryd Hayne.Credit:AAP
The Eels currently have no room to pay Hayne his market value because most of their cap is invested in big names Mitchell Moses, Corey Norman, Michael Jennings, Bevan French, Brad Takairangi and Clint Gutherson. All of those players are off contract and – with the exception of captain Gutherson – are unlikely to be offered new deals.
The blue and golds have only a dozen players contracted for 2020, giving them the cash and flexibility required to overhaul a squad that finished the 2018 season with the wooden spoon.
However, that is of little solace to Hayne, who has always indicated his desire to stay put but can’t do so until at least one contracted player moves on.
The two-time Dally M medallist has publicly stated he is resigned to not playing for Parramatta again, although Eels CEO Bernie Gurr hasn’t given up hope of squeezing him into the 2019 squad.
"We would revisit that, yes," Gurr told Fairfax Media. "It’s pretty common knowledge we are at the same place we’ve been for a couple of weeks.
"We need to free up some salary cap space to be anywhere near what Jarryd would want. That’s not happening at the moment. Nothing has really changed over the last month."
Asked how late the Eels would be prepared to wait to welcome Hayne back – the players began pre-season training last week – Gurr said: "That will be part of a broader decision.
"We have a couple of spots left on our roster at the lower end of the dollar value in the salary cap, so we may need to make some decisions in the new year about how we utilise those spots.
"That would have a direct bearing on whether there would be a spot and any dollars left for another player, someone such as Jarryd."
While a raft of big, back-ended deals has bent the club's cap out of shape, Eels officials have vowed not to repeat the mistakes of the past. New general manager of football Mark O’Neill is tasked with implementing the recommendations of an independent club review and putting together a new list-management strategy.
"We’re going to put a lot of thought into what our roster composition will be and how it dove-tails into a salary cap," Gurr said. "That’s about where we dedicate our money by position and by players. We’re looking at 2020 because we’ve got a number of players coming off contract at the end of 2019.
"We’re going to have some salary cap space and the ability to go to market from a roster point of view.
"We’re going to take a very reasoned and clinical approach about how we go about our roster strategy. The salary cap is about getting value for money and that’s what we’re going to try to do.
"Salary cap management and the roster management around it, you have to get that right. If you don’t, you’re going to struggle."
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