Marcus Bontempelli insists Western Bulldogs fans have nothing to be nervous about despite the out-of-contract star entering his second season as captain with questions hanging over his future.
Bontempelli is one of a host of big names in a bumper 2021 free agency pool, along with Carlton skipper Patrick Cripps, Greater Western Sydney ball magnet Josh Kelly and Essendon midfielder Zach Merrett.
The 145-game Bulldogs star on Wednesday said he is comfortable with where ongoing talks sit between his management and the club.
It comes after the AFL and Players Association paved the way for the game’s highest-profile players to properly assess their value when they finalised a reworked collective bargaining agreement in November.
“We’ve just sort of probably only recently understood the lay of the land in terms of what the TPP (total player payments) and salary stuff looks like,” Bontempelli said.
“So that will form part of the discussion now as we move forward, but there’s no real hesitation.
“It’s just a matter of basically understanding what the lay of the land is now and then just working through it in time.”
Drafted in 2013, Bontempelli is due to qualify as a restricted free agent at the end of this season after eight years service at the Bulldogs, who will have the right to match any offer for their marquee star.
Bontempelli signed a two-year extension in November 2018, one year before his existing contract was due to end.
But the versatile midfielder said neither party is in any rush to finalise a new deal this time around.
“I probably don’t put time frames on things at the best of times because you just need to sort of let it evolve naturally,” Bontempelli said.
“There’s no real pressure from my end, there’s no real pressure from the club’s end to get something done tomorrow.
“I think we’re both pretty good in that respect that we’ll just work through it and give it the time that it needs.”
The Bulldogs on Wednesday announced Bontempelli will retain the captaincy for 2021, with Mitch Wallis elevated to vice-captain in a streamlined two-man leadership group.