Ryan Matterson is set to come off the open market by taking up his contract option to stay at Parramatta next year as the Eels kick off extension talks with Bryce Cartwright.
NRL.com understands that Matterson is poised to enact his final-year option to remain in blue and gold until the end of 2022.
The 26-year-old made back page news earlier this season when an email was circulated to rival clubs asking for expressions of interest, but Matterson’s preference has always been to stay at Parramatta.
Both parties have agreed to look at a potential longer-term deal further down the line.
Matterson’s retention is the latest of Parramatta’s big salary cap puzzle pieces to fall into place, with Mitchell Moses’s three-year, reported $2.4 million deal close to sign-off.
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At the other end of Brad Arthur’s roster sits bargain buy Cartwright, who is making the most of a $115,000 minimum-wage NRL lifeline.
Both the Eels and Cartwright are keen to extend his tenure for at least another year after he signed joined the club late last year.
Cartwright copped a $300,000-plus pay cut from his last Gold Coast contract to do so, but has consistently acknowledged Arthur and Parramatta were the only club to come knocking when he stared down his bleak footballing options.
The 26-year-old has repaid the Eels faith with glimpses of his best form in seven games this season as a bench impact weapon.
Cartwright has scored three tries and laid on the same number for his teammates this year, along with an average 82 running metres and 21 tackles from 42 minutes a game.
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The moves on Matterson and Cartwright continue a busy start to 2020 on the Eels recruitment front.
Tying down prize No.7 Moses follows the two-year extensions of NSW Origin lock Nathan Brown, fan favourite Maika Sivo and commencement of talks with captain Clint Gutherson to ensure he does not hit the open market in November.
Arthur made plain the value of Parramatta’s unsung lower tier earners last month, who have proven critical in balancing out the star power of Gutherson, Moses and the Eels big-name forwards.
"With the squad we've got, it would be nice to have everyone as a $500,000-plus player. But you can't," Arthur told NRL.com.
"That's why you've got a salary cap and we've got a lot of players who do take up a decent chunk of it because of the quality players they are.
"So they need support around them and we've looked to pick up blokes that present good value for money.”