His manager Anthony Van Der Wielen flagged that his client would likely begin the season before stepping up contract talks.
“I am in contact with the Richmond football club on a regular basis. We haven’t discussed a contract past 2020 at this stage. Marlion is very happy, he’s fit and healthy and concentrating on nothing more than the season ahead at this stage,” Van Der Wielen told The Age on Sunday.
The father of four was drafted out of South Fremantle at pick No. 13 of the mid-season rookie draft last May but was sidelined for several weeks because of a broken finger before establishing himself in Richmond’s VFL side, including winning the Norm Goss Medal for best afield in the state league grand final, a performance which helped tip the scales in his favour come AFL selection time later that week.
As a premiership player, he also automatically became a Richmond life member late last year.
Essendon interviewed Pickett ahead of the mid-season draft, while Collingwood, Gold Coast and St Kilda had all shown interest in the WAFL star ahead of the previous year’s national draft before ultimately choosing not to take him.
Pickett is among the out-of-contract Tigers who stand to potentially benefit financially from the shock retirement of superstar Alex Rance.
While the champion key defender will remain on Richmond’s list this year after announcing his retirement in December, much of his salary for the 2020 and 2021 seasons has been freed up for the rest of the Tigers’ list.
Richmond have options to reshuffle deals for some of their high-profile guns including Tom Lynch, Jack Riewoldt and Trent Cotchin, but with premiership players Pickett, Jayden Short, Josh Caddy, Bachar Houli, Toby Nankervis and Jack Graham all due to fall off-contract this year, the Tigers could conceivably spread the Rance retirement bounty among some of that group.
Richmond could also use the money to make a big play for a free agent or trade target.
The reigning premiers are largely fit and firing at present, with Nankervis – who is recovering from off-season groin surgery – the sole 2019 premiership player on the comeback trail.
Kamdyn McIntosh, who missed selection for the grand final, suffered a low-grade syndesmosis injury during the club’s training camp in Queensland last week, and while he has avoided surgery, the Tigers are yet to provide a timeline on his expected return to full fitness.
Daniel is an Age sports reporter