Michael Jennings says he switched to Parramatta because there was little likelihood of an extension at the Roosters, revealing: "They pretty much said there wasn't going to be a contract there for next year."
Jennings' shock transfer to the Eels capped an unprecedented off-season movement of contracted centres that included his Roosters spot being taken by Brisbane recruit Dale Copley.
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The move further fuels speculation the Tricolours are building a war chest to snare Jarryd Hayne, while cross-code star Sonny Bill Williams is also linked with a return to Bondi Junction.
Jennings had a season to run on his rich four-year deal at the Roosters, but was told he would have to take "unders" if he was any chance of a new contract.
With Parramatta desperate for a strike centre after parting with Will Hopoate – and the Roosters prepared to kick in some of Jennings' freight – the move was a win for all parties.
"[The Roosters] pretty much said there wasn't going to be a contract there for next year," Jennings said. "That I would have to take a pay cut, that's pretty much what I was told. I understand that – that's part of business and they are looking elsewhere.
"This was an opportunity to look somewhere else, that my future was somewhere else. That's when I started realising, we should look somewhere else, and when was the best time to go? We could have waited until next year, but that's how the situation went, that's how the ball started getting rolled."
Hayne maintains he is determined to continue his NFL career, despite receiving only limited opportunities during his rookie season with San Francisco.
The Roosters are touted as his most likely destination should he return to the NRL, and Jennings quipped his transfer may free up the cash for the two-time Dally M medallist.
"You get that feeling," he said. "That's the way footy is, if you take things to heart you end up dwelling on stuff like that. I'm not too fussed about it, football is like that and I'm happy to be here."
"Here" is a club he claimed he hated when at western Sydney rivals Penrith. It's now likely the NSW and Australian centre's first appearance for the blue and golds will be against the Panthers, in the final trial of the pre-season for both clubs.
"[Hate] is not what I feel," Jennings said. "I look at it and laugh about it. Back then, it was a Penrith boy being passionate about the rivalry. I look at it as being pretty funny. It was, 'What if you end up at Parramatta?' It was like, 'Ahh, maybe.' "
Jennings will play at left centre, striking a formidable combination with Dally M winger of the year Semi Radradra. The pair scored 32 tries between them last year and have been working hard on their combination since Jennings' arrival.
"It's been exciting, we've done some drills together and he's an amazing athlete," Jennings said. "It will be good, I won't need to set him up, he can set himself up. He can probably set me up with some tries."
This season marks 30 years since Parramatta last won a title. But the addition of Jennings to a side that now includes Kieran Foran, Beau Scott and Michael Gordon has lifted expectations of a first finals appearance since 2009.
"Seeing the fans, and all over social media, they are so passionate," Jennings said. "It's really good, part of the footy that motivates you more and makes you strive to better when you come here."