Naughton commits to Bulldogs “for life” with new eight-year contract

Julian Miller
By:
Julian Miller
06/10/2023
News
BettingTop10 News
Aaron Naughton signs new eight-year deal with Bulldogs

Western Bulldogs Aaron Naughton has signed a new eight-year contract with the AFL club. His new deal runs through the 2032 season.

News Insights

  • Aaron Naughton signs eight-year contract extension.
  • Naughton’s new contract keeps him at Bulldogs until 2032.
  • Move met with mixed reactions.
  • Bulldogs betting on the future with Naughton’s new deal.

Western Bulldogs stunned the AFL world this week by signing star player Aaron Naughton to an eight-year contract extension. The 23-year-old Frankston native was drafted by Bulldogs with the number nine pick in the 2017 national draft. Naughton’s new contract will see him stay at Bulldogs until 2032. 

Bulldogs stun AFL 

The AFL Trade Period is in full swing. Players are looking for moves and clubs are looking for players. In this chaotic environment, the most surprising thing a player can do is commit to a club long term. This is exactly what Aaron Naughton has done. 

By signing a new eight-year contract, the versatile 23-year-old has committed himself “for life,” as the Herald Sun described it, to Western Bulldogs. Prior to this deal, Naughton’s contract was set to expire following the 2024 season. Securing his future was reportedly a top priority for Bulldogs. The club has done just that, and at a steep cost. This is a massive contract for the young player. 

Most recent reports claim Naughton’s new salary is well over one million dollars per year. This makes the Bulldogs man one of the highest paid players in the league. According to Naughton, it wasn’t about the money. 

To sign a long contract and to be here to stay, especially for my teammates as well, I want them to know I am in it with them together. To play alongside these guys for the years to come is really exciting,” said Naughton. 

Naughton also expressed how important it was for him to stay at the club who drafted him. “When you get drafted by this club and they make you feel so welcome, not only myself, but the whole family back in WA, it’s fantastic. You build strong connections with all your teammates and I have some of my best mates here,” the 23-year-old said on Wednesday night. 

Naughton contract criticised as a gamble

While Naughton and Bulldogs are surely happy with their Trade Period business so far, others have been quick to criticise the move as a gamble. 

Former Port Adelaide player and current pundit Kane Cornes is one of the biggest critics of these kinds of long-term deals. “It is a huge price to pay and you are committing a huge amount of your salary cap to one player,” said Cornes of the move on AFL Trade Radio. 

Cornes also added “He is a good player, but he isn’t a great player. He is not Buddy Franklin or Dustin Martin, they are the guys I would give these long deals to.

Sam Power, Bulldogs head of recruitment, avoided the criticism and instead outlined the club’s vision for this move. ““Aaron’s re-signing is another strong showing of confidence in the Club’s long-term ambitions and culture,” said Power, who also stated ““We see Aaron as a huge part of the Bulldogs’ future.

Bulldogs looking to bounce back in 2024

Naughton’s new contract starts at the beginning of the 2024 AFL season. In addition to that major personal milestone for Naughton, 2024 could be a big year for Bulldogs. 

Last season, the club finished just outside the top eight in ninth. The season before that, Bulldogs finished just in eighth. Big investments this closed season are a sign of intent for Bulldogs that this is not good enough. 

Despite their intent, the betting sites are not convinced yet. PlayUp has Bulldogs as tenth favourites to win the 2024 Premiership with just 21.00 odds. 

The AFL Trade Period is just getting started. Aaron Naughton’s move has set a high bar for what could come before October 16th. As for Naughton himself, we’ll be looking to see how he copes with the pressure when the 2024 AFL season starts next year.