One of the flag favourites at the start of the season, the Giants plummeted down the ladder and failed to make the finals for the first time since 2015, finishing 10th with eight wins.
Despite raids on their stars from rival clubs, which have seen Taylor Adams, Dylan Shiel and Devon Smith leave, the Giants have prided themselves on holding on to the players they prioritise.
While this has placed enormous pressure on their salary cap, Silvagni suspects players no longer believe the current crop of Giants can land the ultimate prize.
“I don’t know whether it’s about money, I think they may have missed their chance of winning a grand final,” Silvagni said.
“You look at the Richmonds, when you win one [a premiership], generally you can keep the group together.
“These boys, they’re close, I know they are close up there, but the fact they’ve possibly missed that chance to nab a grand final win, I think that’s hurt them.
“I really believe, probably, not so much this year but the previous three to four years they were a realistic chance to win a grand final. They’ve missed that chance. I think the players have seen that opportunity maybe slip and they’ve opted to go elsewhere.”
Silvagni says the Giants should force the Cats into a trade by matching the offer for restricted free agent Cameron, and ask for a young gun such as ruckman Sam de Koning, the No.19 pick from last year’s draft.
Giants chief Dave Matthews has said Cameron is worth two first-round picks. The Cats have three first-round selections after trading star midfielder Tim Kelly to West Coast last year.
“I don’t know the money there, they’re saying 750 for five years, I don’t know. I would think that the Giants could match that offer not a problem,” Silvagni said on SEN radio.
“They’ve got to look at that, then they’ve got to look at if they don’t match the offer what other deal they can [make] to get a very good player out of the Cats.
“I’ll pull a player out of the hat. Sam de Koning, who’s Tom de Koning’s brother, who’s 202cm, key position player. Go get your pick and get a really good young player through the door.”
Silvagni said the Giants needed to take a longer-term view with their list.
“The concerning thing for the Giants is they can’t panic here, particularly during this trade period. They’ve got to reset,” Silvagni said.
“You can look at it and go “we’re losing these players, how are we going to replace them for next season?”
“I think you’ve got to look beyond next season and say we might have to take a bit of a hit here, we’ve got to trade really well here, we’ve got to take picks here then we might have to reload the following year. You just can’t panic during this trade period.”
Caldwell’s request continues a cycle for the Giants where the elite talent they recruit are poached after two to three years only to be replaced by more high picks who are also lured away – a trend which Silvagni said the club should be “extremely worried” by.
“Jye has informed us that he would like to return home to Victoria,” the Giants football boss Jason McCartney said.
“We had tabled a very competitive offer for a second-year player but we’ll now work to facilitate a trade that will provide a strong result for our football club.”
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald