Broncos must make Keary their $10 million man
The Broncos should offer Luke Keary a $10 million contract to finally give Brisbane a champion playmaker capable of breaking the longest premiership drought in the club's history.
Broncos management can wax lyrical about the galaxy of forward young guns at their disposal but until they find a playmaking brain to marshal their brawn, Brisbane will continue to flounder in a premiership wasteland.
The brilliant Keary is the answer.
A total of 32 five-eighths or halfbacks are off-contract next year, which makes those players open to approaches from November 1 this year.
Of that group, which ranges from rookies to veterans to middle-of-the-road performers, there are only three playmakers with a premiership on their resume - Newcastle's Mitchell Pearce, Souths' Adam Reynolds and the Roosters' Keary.
Of that triumvirate, Keary is the only man with Queensland blood, a kid from the same Ipswich region that spawned Broncos scrumbase legends Allan Langer and Kevin Walters.
Perhaps more importantly, he is now on a sizzling trajectory to becoming the No.1 player in the rugby league cosmos.
His Roosters teammate James Tedesco may be the NRL's undisputed kingpin at the moment but Keary's evolution over the past two years, headlined by his class to floor the Eels last week, now makes him, in my eyes, the code's peerless playmaker.
Granted, the Broncos face a Mission Impossible task to prise Keary out of Bondi. The back-to-back premiers have a billionaire chairman in Nick Politis and what Uncle Nick wants, Uncle Nick gets. The Broncos might have more luck breaking into Fort Knox than outfoxing Politis to steal the signature of Keary.
But as car tycoon Politis knows better than most, money talks all languages and the Broncos should break the bank to get Keary.
The downside of piecing together a premiership juggernaut like the Roosters is the complex distribution of funds required to keep a host of Origin and Test stars financially satisfied under the salary cap at a champion club.
It is estimated Keary is on around $700,000 at the Roosters. With the likes of Tedesco, Boyd Cordner, Victor Radley, Jake Friend and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves on their books, the Roosters only have so many millions to throw around.
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Next year, the Broncos will have 12 players off-contract. Two of those free agents will be five-eighth Anthony Milford and utility Jack Bird, who will take up $2 million of Brisbane's wage bill in 2021.
Bird has had a terrible, injury-ravaged three years in Brisbane, while Milford is a shadow of the playmaker who almost won the 2015 Clive Churchill Medal and has not developed the game-management craft that has taken Keary from good to great.
With at least $2 million to spend, the answer for the Broncos is simple. They should allocate $1.5 million annually to Keary, which would make him the highest-paid player in the code, and offer him a seven-year contract.
Keary turned 28 in February. Under a seven-year deal, the Ipswich product would be 35 when the deal expires, the same age as Keary's former halves partner Cooper Cronk when he retired as a premiership hero last year.
The Broncos are seeking to build another premiership dynasty around forward firepower headed by David Fifita, Payne Haas, Tevita Pangai Jr and Matt Lodge but without a great playmaker to conduct the orchestra, the title soundtrack will never be heard.
History shows the salary cap invariably punishes premiership teams. If the Roosters win a hat-trick of titles this year, someone may have to go.
They say in life if you don't ask, you don't get.
The Broncos would be foolish not to ask the question of Luke Keary.
Originally published as Bronx must make Keary their $10 million man