Triple treat: Raiders spend $7.7m to retain trio
Just a week after retaining Jack Wighton, Canberra is now readying to nail down star outside backs Jarrod Croker and Nick Cotric to long-term deals worth a combined $4.5m.
Raiders CEO Don Furner has opened negotiations with both players and their managers with talks progressing at a steady pace.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal Canberra hope to be in a position to announce Croker's retention as early as next week, Cotric shortly after.
Including Wighton's recent retention, the three deals are worth about $7.7 million.
LIVE stream Indigenous All-Stars v Maori Kiwis in the 2020 Harvey Norman NRL All Stars match on KAYO. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
Contract details haven't yet been finalised but Croker would seek a deal up to four seasons - the final year may be incentive based - with Cotric yet to determine whether he would want a deal spanning two, three or four years.
Croker is worth around $600,000 a season, Cotric about $500,000 a year. Paul Sutton, Croker's manager, said a deal with Canberra was "pretty close."
There have been expressions of interest from rival clubs for Croker, 29, and Cotric, 21, but the pair wants to stay with Canberra, both players having enormous respect for coach Ricky Stuart.
Croker and Cotric are off contract after this season and are now free agents.
The Daily Telegraph understands Sutton and Cotric's agent, Sam Ayoub, will travel to Canberra to step-up contract negotiations.
"It's our aim to have both players - who have been terrific for us - re-signed before season kick-off so their futures are settled," said Raiders CEO Don Furner.
Croker as played 257 NRL games for Canberra, scoring 127 tries. Last year he scored 228 points for the season.
"Jarrod wants to stay and finish his career there," Sutton said. "We will try and get a deal to see that out.
"I will probably go down to Canberra next week or the week after to see Don Furner. I don't think it's too far away. It's pretty close."
Cotric has scored 32 tries in his 70 NRL matches. He averaged 94 run metres a game last season and completed 71 tackle busts.
"Don has called me but I haven't had a meeting with the Raiders yet about Nick," Ayoub said. "The Raiders have made contract and we plan to meet up in the next couple of weeks to get the ball rolling.
"As you expect there have been expressions of interest elsewhere from clubs who would like to know whether Nick would consider leaving Canberra.
"But, at this stage, his preference, and ours, is to remain with his junior club, the Raiders, where things are going well.
"People forget he is still only 21. He is a quality kid. At this stage, we haven't given any thought to the term of the contract."
Wighton last week signed a contract extension at Canberra until the end of 2024. The deal was worth around $3m.
"To be here as one of the main players of the club, trying to help it grow and thrive, it's very special to me and it's something I take with a lot of responsibility now that I've been here so long," Wighton said.
Canberra's, last season's runners-up, play Gold Coast in round one at GIO Stadium on March 13.