Mason Cox's return to Collingwood's team in the last two matches has seen him trigger a clause to extend his contract for another year.
The tall forward signed a three-year deal with the potential for a fourth year on the same money – about $550,000 annually – if he played a certain number of games over those first three years.
After 38 games over the first two years, he only had to play a handful of games this year to activate the right for another year on his deal.
Mason Cox has played enough games this season to trigger an extension clause in his contract. Credit:Getty images
Given the reduced season this year, the AFL has given clubs a pro rata formula for games-based incentive triggers in contracts. Sources indicate Cox passed that trigger when he was recalled in the last two matches and, after his best senior performance in a long time in his game against Carlton, he now looks set to hold his place in the team.
The Collingwood forward line operated better in the Carlton game, with Cox as a marking target and effective games from small forward Jaidyn Stephenson and Josh Thomas.
There has been some question in the industry of how the AFL's pro rata formula applies in this reduced season, when contracts have triggers that are activated on a cumulative basis over several years.
The AFLPA has been examining the issue for players with a range of contract situations and it appears in Cox's case that he has now comfortably played sufficient games to dispense with any query on the contract trigger.
Upheaval at the AFL from staff being stood down temporarily this year, and then salary cap manager Ken Wood's removal among the staff cuts, has made it difficult to gain clarity around many contract situations and rules.
There was interest in a trade for the former basketballer in the trade period last year but the size of Cox's contract cooled other clubs' interest.
At the time he signed his latest contract with Collingwood at the end of 2017, Cox had received a lucrative offer from Brisbane and could have moved there for nothing, through the pre-season draft, had he chosen to accept the offer. The potential to lose him for nothing and the size of the Brisbane offer explained the size of the Collingwood contract.
Cox has fallen down the pecking order at Collingwood since his career peak in the preliminary final win over Richmond in 2018. He would still be expected next year to go into the season behind Brodie Mihocek and young Will Kelly as key forwards, while Darcy Cameron, who was recruited at the end of last year, has also been favoured ahead of him.
He only earned a reprieve to Collingwood's senior team for the North Melbourne game due to injuries to Mihocek and Kelly.
Collingwood has preferred Cameron as the tall forward and second ruck – Cox did not ruck in the win over Carlton but played as a permanent forward – though Cameron was poor against Carlton and would be expected to struggle to hold his spot this week.
As a ruckman, Cox is behind Brodie Grundy, Cameron and the emerging Max Lynch. Collingwood sees him as a forward more than a ruckman though there are some at other clubs who believe he would be a better as a permanent ruckman.
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