James Frawley of the Demons (right) tries to shrug off a tackle against the Western Bulldogs.

James Frawley of the Demons (right) tries to shrug off a tackle against the Western Bulldogs. Photo: Getty Images

Melbourne coach Paul Roos says the Demons are desperate to hold on to defender James Frawley, following a stinging attack from club legend Garry Lyon.

Lyon said for clubs interested in Frawley, a free agent at the end of the season, it was a case of "buyer beware" on a player who was a "horrible" kick and made poor on-field decisions.

Roos said he had not heard the comments, but defended Frawley's ability and character.

''We hope we can keep him,'' he said. ''James at his best is an All-Australian defender and he’s certainly been a really consistent player for this footy club.

''We’re respectful that he’s got the right to take his time and make a decision, because that’s how free agency works. Around the club he’s been terrific, he’s really positive. There’s no signs that he’s obviously made a decision.

''‘You need to know at some point. That point hasn’t arisen yet.''

Fairfax Media revealed in January that Frawley was putting his contract talks on hold, partly due to having seven coaches in eight years and wanting clarity over the club's direction.

Frawley is regarded as arguably the best out-of-contract free agent this year, with the full-back reportedly wanting an upgraded annual salary of about $750,000. 

He and his manager Alex McDonald are apparently no closer to deciding whether he will stay or leave.

Lyon, the former Demons skipper and once an unofficial powerbroker, questioned Frawley's worth following his mixed performance in the loss to the Western Bulldogs on Sunday.

While his immediate opponent Liam Jones was subbed off, Frawley coughed up the ball several times, none more glaring than when he could not force at least a stoppage in the back pocket late in the game. The loose ball was taken by emerging Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli, who conjured a remarkable match-winning goal.

"He is a really interesting case,'' Lyon said of Frawley on Channel Nine's Footy Classified on Monday.

"There is so much money being bandied around. Know what you are getting - he is a horrible decision-maker with the ball in his hand. He is a horrible kick.

"He consistently misses targets. He makes poor decisions with footy in hand. He doesn't compute quick enough. He has a strength - that is to watch the ball in flight."

On the incident that led to the Bontempelli goal, Lyon said: "You need to hold on to that ball, understand the stage of the game - and that is your last-line defender."

Lyon appeared to question why Geelong had expressed interest in Frawley, who has spent considerable time as a forward this season because of injuries to teammates and the sudden retirement of Mitch Clark. 

"He has one what I would call elite aspect to his game - that is when the ball is in flight and his ability to judge the ball in flight in relation to his direct opponent," he said.

"If you want to pay that sort of money for a man that has one strength ... I don't have an issue with that he is doing or what his manager is doing. All I am saying is,  buyer beware.

"The Geelong footy club expressed interest at the weekend. At that price, he is going to leapfrog [Tom] Lonergan, I would imagine, from a pay scale and two or three others.

"They famously pay unders at Geelong to keep their group together. If you do that - beware."

Frawley, a 131-game veteran, finished seventh in Melbourne's best and fairest last season.