The Broncos' five key contract issues.
The Broncos' five key contract issues.

The five contract issues Brisbane must fix

The Broncos must target Wests Tigers wizard Benji Marshall and NFL defector Valentine Holmes to help rebuild Brisbane in the wake of Black Sunday.

Queensland's flagship NRL club are under pressure to shake up their roster by exploring the player market following their 58-0 finals hiding against the Eels, but there is one significant problem.

The NRL open market is virtually barren. Just about every marquee player in Brisbane's problem areas - the halves and fullback - has been secured for the next 12 months.

But there are two potential gems the Broncos would be crazy to ignore. They are Benji and Val. They have the fusion of big-game experience, playmaking guile, class, speed and firepower that would transform the Broncos in 2020.

As besieged Brisbane bosses prepare for a forensic club review, here are the five key contractual decisions the Broncos must confront to rise from the ashes of their Bankwest disaster.

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What should the club do with captain Darius Boyd? Photo: Matt King/Getty Images
What should the club do with captain Darius Boyd? Photo: Matt King/Getty Images

 

1. THE SPINE

PLAYMAKERS Darius Boyd, Anthony Milford and Andrew McCullough are among Brisbane's top five highest-paid players. They take up a combined $2.3 million, which equates to 24 per cent, effectively a quarter, of Brisbane's $9.6m salary cap. But despite the sizeable investment, the Broncos are not getting bang for their buck from their big guns.

Now, Brisbane's recruitment-and-retention committee must shrewdly formulate, and navigate, an exit strategy. Milford and McCullough have 12-month options in their favour next year, which they can activate to stay on at the Broncos in 2021.

While $1 million man Milford is only 25, McCullough is 30 in January and already showing signs of struggling with the pace of the NRL. Then there's Boyd, who is on $700,000 next season under the salary cap. The Broncos must decide whether to honour Boyd's deal or discuss ways to explore salary cap relief with an early retirement.

 

Would Benji Marshall be such a bad move? Photo: Mark Evans/Getty Images
Would Benji Marshall be such a bad move? Photo: Mark Evans/Getty Images

 

2. OPERATION VAL AND BENJI

THE Broncos should waste no time. They must act today and attempt to blow the Tigers out of the water with an eleventh-hour offer to Benji. It is understood Marshall has agreed in principle to another 12 months with the Tigers, who are clearing salary-cap space to ratify the deal.

But what's to stop Brisbane offering Marshall a better deal? He may be 35 in February but Benji was superb this season and is the perfect seasoned playmaker to bring some guile and direction to the Broncos. Marshall also has fond memories of the Broncos, resurrecting his career at the club in 2017 before signing for more money at the Tigers.

A 12-month return to Red Hill for Benji would give Tom Dearden time to mature and learn beside him. The Broncos should also target Valentine Holmes. He will almost certainly return to Australia from the NFL in January and would be a sensation in the Broncos No.1 jumper.

 

Time is almost up for Jack Bird in Brisbane. Photo: AAP Image/Darren England
Time is almost up for Jack Bird in Brisbane. Photo: AAP Image/Darren England

 

3. JACK NOT SO RIPPER

THE elephant in the room at the Broncos is the mega-contract for Jack Bird. The former NSW Origin is a popular guy among Broncos players with his affable nature but he needs to start performing on the park.

Bird's contract increases to a staggering $900,000 next year, making him the second highest-paid player behind Anthony Milford. That's a huge salary for a guy who has played just 17 games in two seasons following sternum and shoulder injuries last year and a knee reconstruction this season.

Bird has previously been linked with a return to Cronulla. He is now more comfortable in Brisbane, but if the Broncos need to free up cap space, the size of Bird's deal brings him under the microscope.

 

Fifita‘s contract … yep. Photo: Matt King/Getty Images
Fifita‘s contract … yep. Photo: Matt King/Getty Images

 

4. DAVID AND GOLIATH BATTLE

THE Broncos are going to have to virtually triple the salary of David Fifita in the space of 12 months to retain him. The 19-year-old was on $250,000 this season but his contract value will soar beyond $700,000 when he comes off-contract next year.

Rival clubs such as the Warriors and Parramatta may not succeed in a poaching raid, but their mere overtures will ensure Fifita surges up Brisbane's salary list. Given his performances this year and rise to State of Origin status, Fifita deserves to be in their top six.

 

The question is how to manage Matt Gillett‘s inevitable exit. Photo: AAP Image/Darren England
The question is how to manage Matt Gillett‘s inevitable exit. Photo: AAP Image/Darren England

 

5. MATT FINISH

MAROONS warhorse Matt Gillett has been a magnificent servant and his 200th NRL game last Sunday against the Eels was just reward. But alarm bells are ringing. Brisbane brokered a four-year upgrade for Gillett after he fractured his neck last year. That means he is contracted until the end of 2022, by which time he will be 34.

Given his neck dramas, it's unlikely the Maroons back-rower will see out his current deal. The challenge for the Broncos is managing his exit and whether Gillett decides to walk away earlier than anticipated to help Brisbane build for the future.

News Corp Australia


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