Where to next for Mitchell Pearce?
Mitchell Pearce may have been the one who asked for a release from the Sydney Roosters, but his situation was always heading down this path once the club landed Cooper Cronk's signature for the next two seasons.
To Pearce, it was only ever going to be perceived as a slap in the face. His club was his no more. To make matters worse, the architect of his State of Origin nightmares – the man responsible for so much of his pain – was the one taking it from him.
Cronk said all the right things in the aftermath. Probably meant them, too. But the Roosters would have known just how hard this would hit Pearce.
The public perception will be the Roosters have tried to keep Pearce but he didn't want a bar of being the understudy. Now Cronulla, Newcastle and Manly will fight for his services.
The Sharks have money to spend. NRL.com understands the Sharks, as it stands, can afford almost all of his $800,000-plus price tag in next year's salary cap without relying heavily on a third-party deal or roster reshuffle.
It's interesting to note the Sharks were unwilling to budge on releasing James Maloney for Matt Moylan when they first initiated discussions with Penrith.
They wanted them both. But coincidentally they changed their tune after learning Pearce would potentially hit the open market.
It's unlikely Manly will be in a similar financial position to Cronulla. It's understood the Sea Eagles don't have enough money in the salary cap next year to land Pearce on that sort of money. Not without making some adjustments or a third-party deal.
Soon after Manly announced on Monday afternoon that Blake Green had been granted a release from the final year of his deal at the club, the Roosters put out a statement to say Pearce had been allowed to leave.
The New Zealand Warriors hadn't announced it on Monday but you can be rest assured Green will be based across the ditch in 2018 as his contract will be lengthier and more lucrative than the one-year he had left at Manly.
The Sea Eagles are no fools. They wouldn't release Green without a contingency plan. That could be Pearce, but they have also expressed interest in Gold Coast Titans five-eighth Kane Elgey, just in case.
Don't underestimate Manly coach Trent Barrett's influence on Pearce. The pair played together at State of Origin level for NSW and still share a close bond.
However money could be a factor on the northern beaches. There will be no such problems should Pearce link with Newcastle. The Knights are in a healthy salary cap position and would likely throw the most money to lure Pearce to their club next season.
If they wanted to, the Knights could make Pearce the next million-dollar player. There's also the appeal of reuniting with former Roosters teammates Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Connor Watson and Aidan Guerra.
The other team which has been mentioned as a contender is Melbourne. There always reservations when you replace a seasoned champion like Cronk with a rookie in Brodie Croft, but the Storm don't have the salary cap space to compete with the rival bidders.
Pearce must decide what he wants out of the next chapter of his career. Is it money? Is it a legacy? Either way, the career of the most maligned player in the NRL just got a whole lot more interesting.