Manly veteran Steve Matai has warned that if Glenn Stewart leaves the club, other stars are likely to follow.
Sea Eagles officials met with Stewart's management on Tuesday in an attempt to nut out a deal that will allow him to finish his career at Brookvale.
The issue is an emotive one for the senior playing group, who have stuck together to enjoy an incredible record of making the playoffs, which has culminated in two premierships.
The grand finalists have little room under the salary cap to move and there are other players also off contract, most notably Peter Hiku, who has firm offers from Canterbury and another NRL club.
Matai believes if Stewart goes, others will do likewise.
"Definitely, if Glenn goes there will be a few players who will reconsider re-signing," Matai said.
"I hope it comes to a head in the next couple of days, I'm quite shocked it's taken this long.
"He built the culture with a lot of us; we've been together for 10 years and we've built this culture as a club. To see it almost go if Glenn goes is sort of sad, it would take away everything we've built."
Asked if the players had considered taking a pay cut to accommodate Stewart, the New Zealand international said: "We haven't spoken about that or contracts, we just know it's taken so long. I'm sure Glenn is disappointed the club hasn't sorted it out sooner rather than later.
"We've all taken pay cuts on the last few contracts to stick and play together, what more [can you do]. I hope the club sorts it out soon.
"It's hard because [management] don't see what goes on inside the club. We're quite a tight group of players here and I think they only see us as a number but don't actually know what sort of effect Glenn and the older players have on the club.
"If they take that into consideration they would have sorted it out a long time ago."
Hiku has done a good job filling in for Stewart's brother Brett, who could make his return from injury in Sunday's clash with Wests Tigers.
Brett Stewart trained strongly with the team on Tuesday but wasn't named in the side the club announced afterwards.
Sea Eagles officials will meet with Hiku's management on Wednesday in the hope of also extending his contract.
The conundrum for Hiku is that Stewart will always be the preferred fullback while they are both at Manly, where he would like to stay. However, a club like Canterbury – in desperate need of a replacement for Ben Barba – would give him the opportunity to nail the No.1 position long term.
"I'd really like to get it out of the way and just concentrate on footy," Hiku said.
"It's nice to hear other clubs want me, but it all comes to the option where you play your best footy.
"It would be good to stay. I'd like to get another contract here. I'll focus on this year and see what I can get for next year."