Illustration: Mick Connolly.

Illustration: Mick Connolly.

A matter of hours after Richmond announced that Jack Riewoldt had finally signed on for another three years, another key forward who has taken his time over a contract, Lance Franklin, reminded us why his salary will exceed a million dollars in his next deal.

Jake Carlisle is one of the game's emerging key defenders, yet Buddy made him look like a draught horse. Jake, a renowned aerialist, couldn't match Franklin's freakish mobility. This time, Buddy played to his nimble strengths, instead of falling for the wrestlemania trap.

The attitudes of Riewoldt and Franklin to their contracts is an interesting contrast that also reflects the different situations of the Tigers and the Hawks. Richmond is rising and has a sniff of success. The Hawks are seeking to deliver the second premiership that we all thought inevitable back in 2008 when they upset the Cats and triggered the game's most fascinating rivalry - and ascendancy.

A second premiership - the missing part of the Hawthorn mission statement under Jeff Kennett - has become a mission. The Hawks should have a greater desire than either Geelong or Sydney, because there is a sense that they are a team and club unfulfilled. The Cats and Swans have multiple flags since 2005. The Hawks, who were talked up as a dynasty, have only one.

Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Brad Sewell and Shaun Burgoyne are all past or nearing their 30th birthday. The Hawks can squeeze another year of contention, but history suggests that teams get only three- or four-year windows and it will become increasingly difficult - albeit creative use of free agency could keep them thereabouts.

Riewoldt was always going to re-sign. It was just a question of the terms. This was a crucial deal for the Tigers, who couldn't afford to lose Jack, but equally, couldn't succumb, as past regimes have, and pay Riewoldt at top of market rates. There is a price for success in the AFL. Dustin Martin should understand that there's also a price for stability.

Riewoldt's new deal is understood to be in the $650,000 range, which isn't shabby, but is still well below what he could get if he'd been willing to leave. Reportedly, Fremantle had a million a season on offer and certainly there were other clubs, including Brisbane and possibly Gold Coast, who could have gone well past the $800,000 mark. The premium on key forwards is immutable - ask Carlton, which still has a major hole in its attack.

What the Tigers have been trying to explain to their player group is that you can't win flags without giving up some money. One reason Geelong people should be lighting candles to Gary Ablett is that he was grossly underpaid for the premier player in the game from 2007 until 2010; Ablett was getting paid between $500,000 and $600,000 in his final years at Geelong. Had he been paid the million dollars that anyone else would gladly part with, the Cats would have lost someone of Joel Corey or Paul Chapman's ilk, at the least.

Frank Costa once told me that a player would stick for 20-25 per cent less than he might receive at another club, but not for 50 per cent. Ablett easily exceeded the standard sacrifice, which ultimately contributed to his decision to leave. The Suns' mega deal was a kind of compensation for Ablett's team success.

That brings us back to Buddy and Jack. Franklin has a choice between being paid very well at Hawthorn - the offer is believed to be close to $1.1million over five years with some conditions in the final year - or obscenely rewarded by Greater Western Sydney and the AFL.

Usually, a player in Franklin's boat would choose to stay. The Hawthorn offer has been called respectful by Buddy's manager, Liam Pickering, who has been suggesting that the Hawks, contrary to scuttlebutt, are favourites. But if he has already had team success - and a second flag would mark the Alastair Clarkson era as a great one - then the incentive for staying is arguably reduced.

A player who has succeeded can afford to leave.

Riewoldt hasn't tasted finals yet, much less a grand final or flag. He's a bit younger than Buddy and his club's best days surely lie ahead - Richmond ought to be contending in 2015, if not next year. Jack strikes as a player with a healthy ego, who likes to kick goals and win Colemans. But he's also a smart bloke, who's learning to sacrifice his game for the greater team good. The Tigers didn't like it when he was kicking six in losing teams and they've worked hard to reduce the Riewoldt share of their score. Damian Hardwick tends to talk up the games when Jack doesn't kick goals, provided he has tackled and so forth.

Franklin's position has superficial similarities to Ablett's when he went north, but Buddy is a different beast and there is a greater mystery about his contractual game plan. Does he just want the money? Or is he sick of Melbourne and wishing to hang with his rugby mates James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale. The Las Vegas meeting with Clarkson - when Clarko showed up, unexpectedly, to see him - has created more speculation. If Franklin has Greta ''I want to be alone'' Garbo's desire for anonymity, he should know he won't be unrecognised and free to socialise in Sydney without people tweeting etc. The focus will be less intense, but the Sydney media, certainly, won't leave him alone. Tony Lockett played in a different media environment, when there was no Twitter or Facebook.

Buddy's choice is more complicated than Jack's. Riewoldt's reputation rests, to a large extent, on whether he becomes full-forward at a successful club. Buddy's been there and done that once, with pole position for the defining premiership No. 2.

The Hawks need that second flag as badly as the Cats needed to salute in 2009. If they get the Grail, they can afford to lose anyone.