Roosters No.7 Kyle Flanagan has been told he will not have his current contract renewed beyond 2021 as rising prop Poasa Faamausili is sized up for a move to St George Illawarra to ease salary cap pressure at Bondi.
NRL.com understands that Flanagan is now weighing up rival interest, led by the Bulldogs, after being told that teen prodigy Sam Walker and Lachlan Lam are viewed as the club's long-term halves options alongside Luke Keary.
The Roosters have made no official comment on either Flanagan or Faamausili's future.
Faamausili is understood to be in talks with the Dragons around a two-year deal that would require an immediate release from his Roosters contract, which is not due to expire until 2022.
The 24-year-old has impressed in his limited first-grade chances in recent years but found himself stuck behind the likes of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Siosiua Taukeiaho and Queensland Origin hopeful Lindsay Collins.
Faamausili entertained a move to Cronulla earlier this year before being loaned to the Warriors, and he looms as Anthony Griffin's first signing as Dragons coach if they can negotiate a release from the Roosters.
Meanwhile Flanagan is considered likely to request permission to begin negotiations with rival clubs after being told he only has one more season at most left in red, white and blue.
Canterbury are believed to be leading the chase for the former Shark, having already planned to target Flanagan from November 1 when he came off contract.
Incoming Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett is understood to have Flanagan earmarked as a goalkicking playmaker to lead his Belmore rebuild.
Roosters' top five tries of 2020
Talks continue around injured veteran Blake Green staying in Newcastle, as an assistant coach or possible halves option, pending his recovery from a cruel ACL tear suffered a few weeks after signing with Canterbury.
Flanagan himself pushed through a particularly painful ligament tear in his shoulder suffered in the first half of the semi-final loss to the Raiders, requiring a painkilling injection to play on.
His looming exit from the club will appear perplexing to plenty of NRL observers given he was recruited as Cooper Cronk's successor and earned lavish praise from the champion playmaker, who became the club's halves coach after retiring.
He enjoyed a bright start to his stint at the Roosters with a World Club Challenge win and goal-kicking spree that made him the NRL's leading pointscorer for much of 2020, before he was dropped for two games in August.
Lam came into the side and Flanagan was only recalled when he went down with a syndesmosis injury.
Releasing Flanagan and Faamausili from the Roosters would free up much-needed salary cap space along with the retirement of Mitchell Aubusson, return to England for Ryan Hall and potential for Sonny Bill Williams to follow.
Despite talk of Mitchell Pearce being viewed upon for a Roosters return gaining traction on Wednesday, the club has nowhere near enough cap space for the Knights skipper to be a consideration for 2021.
Newcastle are set to pick up contract talks with the 31-year-old later in the summer, though there have been suggestions a pay cut may be put to Pearce.
At the Roosters, teen tyro Walker, the son of former Bronco Ben, has been highly rated since he arrived in last year's pre-season, training throughout 2020 as a member of the club's COVID-19 bubble without seeing any game time.
Trent Robinson is determined not to rush him into first grade before he is ready, but confidence is growing around Walker's ability to make the jump with another pre-season under his belt.
Walker will also come off contract on November 1, but it's understood there is no strong desire for him to go to market from his family at this stage.