The troubled waters at Essendon have calmed a little further with young best and fairest winner Jordan Ridley signing a long-term deal with the Bombers.
It comes hot on the heels of new contracts for future captain Andrew McGrath and Kyle Langford but follows the exits of Joe Daniher, Adam Saad and Orazio Fantasia.
Ridley, who is only 21, was a standout for the Bombers in defence and won the club champion award in just his second season with only 26 games under his belt.
He has signed until the end of 2024 and declared he and the playing group were “not satisfied” with a mediocre 2020 season in which the Bombers missed the finals and faced huge criticism about the club’s culture.
“I’m really grateful to the club for the opportunity to extend my contract, and it was a pretty easy decision to get to,” Ridley said.
“I’ve worked really closely with (coach) Ben Rutten and (line coach) James Kelly this season, and they’ve given me a lot of belief, but working closely with Michael Hurley down back particularly has been really beneficial for my game.
“We’re not satisfied with our season by any stretch, and we have a lot of hard work to do this pre-season but under “Truck” (Rutten). I’m really confident in where we’re heading over the next few years as a group. It’s going to be pretty exciting to be a part of it for at least the next four years to see what we can all do together.”
McGrath, who has committed until the end of 2022 and is viewed as a future club captain, also said he wasn’t concerned about the club’s direction despite the departure of a number of players over this off-season.
“I’m definitely not concerned; it’s disappointing to lose great people at the footy club. The guys that we are speaking about are great people and mates of mine, so it’s sad to see them go,” McGrath told RSN on Tuesday.
“But I think from that comes great opportunity. We get great clarity and we get people at the footy club 100 per cent committed to achieving with us.
“Although this year was disappointing and there are things going on that are out of our control, sit by – I think Truck is putting together a great game plan and is getting the right people in the right places.
“Our young core of players are really determined to achieve and improve and consistently get better to get us to that top bracket of teams where we want to be.”