Hayne waiting for pieces need to fall into place
JARRYD Hayne will be officially unemployed from Thursday.
The two-time Dally M Medallist is contracted with Parramatta until November 1, but has nothing but an assurance from the Eels they will find space for him in the salary cap in 2019.
That assurance is based on a few factors - and they all involve being able to offload a big-name player to free up some cash.
The Eels have plenty of money tied up in their outside backs and although depth is important, it's not financially reasonable.
Michael Jennings is the most obvious target to offload, with the former State of Origin centre on around an $800,000 per season deal for 2019.
Freeing up some of that money as well as space in the centres would be the perfect solution for the Eels' backline, allowing Brad Takairangi and Hayne to play centre, Blake Ferguson and George Jennings on the wings and Clint Gutherson or Bevan French at fullback.
However, the reality is Jennings took up an option in his favour to stay with the Eels in 2019 and if they want to release him, they will need to pay part of his contract.
Jennings has been on the hit list for the cashed-up Knights since the end of 2017, but unlike days gone by, the club is unwilling to pay overs for players.
It would be an advantageous move for the Knights, who were skint in the backline this season after recruit Tautau Moga was struck down with a knee injury. However, they have since signed Sharks' gun Jesse Ramien.
Jennings has also played plenty of football with former Roosters teammates Aidan Guerra, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Mitchell Pearce.
There are also rumours the Knights are looking to offload Nathan Ross, and the club has acknowledged they are in the market for another outside back as well as a marquee forward with Bulldogs prop David Klemmer firmly in their sights.
Although the Knights have plenty of space in their salary cap for next season and beyond, their ability to secure both Klemmer and Jennings remains a question.
It has been widely reported that the Knights were offering Klemmer a deal worth $1.2 million per season, a figure which has since been denied by CEO Phil Gardner.
"He is a marquee player so his numbers will reflect that status," Gardner said..
"But that figure wouldn't be what we are offering. Certainly, I don't know where that number has come from.
"That number has not come from us."
The maths will be left in the capable hands of the recruitment managers, but after the Eels announced the re-signing of George Jennings, Peni Terepo, David Gower and Kaysa Pritchard, it appears there is money in the salary cap, they're choosing to be smart about where they spend it.
Halves Mitch Moses and Corey Norman are both believed to have been shopped around to rivals clubs in a bid to free up space - particularly considering Gutherson has shown his capabilities in the position in the past.
Norman and Moses are both contracted until the end of 2019 and are able to be negotiated with from Thursday. Norman in particular is on a deal worth close to $1 million per season.
However, if the Eels are unable to offload anyone, Hayne may have to look elsewhere to stay in the NRL.
The Dragons emerged as an unlikely destination, while earlier this week it was reported that Wests Tigers have space in their salary cap to take him.
"We've got cap space there," Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe said.
"We have two positions still to fill, we have 28 on our roster as we speak.
"We haven't had any discussions about Jarryd at this point but he's a quality player."
Short of an 11th hour lifeline from another NRL club, it appears Hayne will need to wait for the pieces to fall into place.