AFL news: Ben McKay unwittingly clips North Melbourne after Essendon Bombers move

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Ben McKay has unwittingly lambasted his former club with the ink yet to dry on his monstrous transfer to the Bombers.

The key defender became one of the biggest stories of the trade period when details of his mega-deal with Essendon emerged, showing he will be the highest-paid player in the league by 2024.

McKay moved from North Melbourne to Essendon during the recent Trade Period, joining the Bombers on a six-year deal worth around $850,000 per season.

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Essendon were active at the trading table, luring Jade Gresham from St Kilda, Xavier Duursma from Port Adelaide and veteran ruckman Todd Goldstein from North Melbourne.

The Kangaroos received pick three in trade compensation for the 25-year-old – leaving commentators baffled at the generous gift the Kangaroos received from the league for letting McKay walk.

He clearly left the Roos on good terms with coach Alastair Clarkson and at one point threatened to match any offer made to McKay.

However, that good faith could be somewhat tested by his comments this week, when he stumbled into the dangerous territory of describing his spell at North Melbourne – where he won just eight times from his 71 games.

“The expectation is a privilege,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“I think coming from North, where we were a young group and not having too much success, we were on a different journey.

“It’s exciting to be part of a team that has some pressure on it.”

McKay said he believes Essendon is not far from success – and says it is the main reason he jumped ship.

“Essendon is right, I think they are close to success,” said McKay.

He continued: “My contract, the money side, is between myself, my manager and family. The main reason I came to Essendon wasn’t the money problem.

“But I think it’s part of the industry for these things to come out a little bit.”

According to reports, the Bombers will have a salary cap war chest to attract more free agents in the coming years.

McKay’s front-end deal will allow the Bombers to be active in the free agency market in the future.

According to, the top defender will earn between $1.4 and $1.5 million in 2024.

Lance Franklin received approximately $1.5 million in the eighth year of his monster contract with the Sydney Swans, while twelve players received salaries of $1 million or more in 2022.

Geelong’s Jeremy Cameron, Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli and Melbourne pair Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca were also in that range, along with GWS trio Toby Greene, Stephen Coniglio and Josh Kelly.

McKay’s six-year contract runs until the end of 2029, with a trigger for a seventh season.

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