Tigers’ salary cap shocker exposed
Wests Tigers will have just $300,000 to spend next year should the club fail in a bid to offload one of four highly paid players that are in the firing line.
In a revelation which exposes the true and shocking state of the salary cap inherited by Michael Maguire, the Tigers will only be able to add two minimum wage players to their struggling squad unless they can free up cap cash by releasing either Josh Reynolds, Luke Brooks, Russell Packer or Moses Mbye.
News Corp can reveal the Tigers are just $300,000 away from reaching next year's $9.9 million salary and still have three spots on their 30-man roster to fill.
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With the Tigers set to start next season without a significant signing, Mbye this week joined Reynolds, Brooks and Packer when he was added to the Tigers' fire sale.
Signed on an $815,000 a year-deal, Mbye has already been linked to the Gold Coast in a move that would, at the very least, give the Tigers enough cash to fill their NRL squad.
The Tigers would have to offload at least one more big-money player before even thinking about signing a marquee.
Reynolds ($850,000), Packer ($750,000) and Brooks ($600,000) are the three other players on the unofficial 'let-go' list.
While the quartet haven't been formally shopped to rival clubs or told to look for a new deal, the Tigers will not stop the players from talking to rival clubs, nor stand in their way should they be able to strike a deal.
Locked in a desperate fight to make the eight after a crushing loss to Newcastle on Saturday night, the Tigers are facing the prospect of starting next season with what could be a weaker 30-man squad than what they have this year.
Set to send loan sensation Harry Grant back to Melbourne, the Tigers have signed Shawn Blore (Panthers), Asu Kepaoa (Roosters) and Sefano Utaikamanu (Eels) for next year.
The club will likely lose veterans Benji Marshall and Chris Lawrence to retirement.
With Blore and Kepaoa already at the club, the remaining positions will be filled by development players.
Beginning his three-year reign as Tigers coach last year, Maguire inherited a salary cap mess with players including Chris McQueen, Ben Matulino, Elijah Taylor, Packer, Reynolds and Mbye all signed to significant long-term deals.
Maguire has been restricted to making only a handful of signings with Robert Jennings, Adam Doueihi, Billy Waters, Zane Musgrave and Joey and Luciano Leilua the only other players he has recruited to the club.
Despite the salary cap restrictions, Maguire has managed to improve the Tigers in 11 of the 12 key on-field areas since joining the club.
While often credited for their defence, statistics also reveal the Tigers are scoring more points, making more run metres, making more tackle busts and making more linebreaks under Maguire.
Originally published as Tigers' salary cap shocker exposed