Paul McGregor's long-term replacement as Dragons coach is expected to have scope for up to $2 million in roster renovations.
And the club has identified former Steelers junior Jack Bird as a key potential addition to the 2021 roster while Jack de Belin's uncertain future is another major component of how St George Illawarra's recruitment plans ultimately unfold.
McGregor's exit after Friday's clash with Parramatta is the latest and most significant development in a 2020 season of serious upheaval at the club.
With James Graham, Isaac Luke and Tim Lafai already out the door and Tyson Frizell (Newcastle) and Euan Aitken (Warriors) to follow next year, the Dragons have identified strike power out wide and front-row reinforcements as their key target areas.
NRL.com understands the Dragons are in talks with Bird, as are the Bulldogs, around a two-year deal for the injury-plagued utility back that would be heavily subsidised in the first 12 months by Brisbane.
It's believed the Broncos would be willing to pay as much as half of Bird's $900,000-plus wage for next season to ease their own salary cap issues, making the injured utility a more attractive option for St George Illawarra out wide.
Off-contract Storm and Queensland Origin prop Christian Welch has also been linked to the club as a possible option up front.
NRL.com understands though that Melbourne has also started extension talks with the 26-year-old, with the club's salary cap better placed than this time last year when Welch's ACL rupture scuppered a likely move to the Eels.
Dragons selection committee became untenable for McGregor
As has been the case for the past 18 months though, the outcome of de Belin's pending sexual assault charges hold significant influence over the Dragons roster.
The club has made plain its desire to keep the former NSW Origin lock and is prepared to table an offer above his current salary – believed to be just under $600,000 – to keep him should he be able to play in 2021.
The Warriors however are also ready to weigh in with a similar offer, while a ruling on legal argument in de Belin's case is expected to come by August 28.
Elsewhere the Dragons are unlikely to be able to move on Corey Norman and his estimated $850,000 salary, while forward Korbin Sims has also fallen from favour this season.
With Ben Hunt, Adam Clune, Tristan Sailor and highly rated young gun Jayden Sullivan already on their books the club is comfortable with its playmaking stocks.
Re-signing Sailor looms as an immediate priority for McGregor's successor, while nailing down Hunt's ideal position is also significant decision pending a new head coach's preference.
Assistant coach Dean Young takes charge for the rest of the season and is highly regarded by some figures at the club, including senior players.
- McGregor resigns: Coach says Young deserves role long term
- The two main reasons why McGregor and Dragons parted ways
Whoever takes over full time already has the building blocks of a quality squad, with Zac Lomax (signed until the end of 2025), Hunt (2023 option in his favour), Josh Kerr (2023), Clune (2022), Tariq Sims (2022), Paul Vaughan (2022 option in his favour), Blake Lawrie (2022), Cameron McInnes (2021) and Matt Dufty (2021) all tied up.
Hunt's estimated $1.1 million salary, in combination with Norman's own hefty price tag makes for a heavy millstone when both playmakers are down on form and confidence.
At his best, Hunt especially is a consistent representative calibre player, and one most coaches would back themselves to get the best out of.
With the $700,000 set aside for Newcastle-bound Frizell still to be spent, and the exits of Graham, Lafai, Aitken and Luke freeing up around another $1 million, there is a reasonable amount of wriggle room once more in the Red V roster.