Three and a half years after the trade, as it stands, here's the respective scenarios for each of the three teams when considering the drafted players involved:
Lost: Craig Bird and draft position (due to points accrual in securing Callum Mills) and Jade Gresham. Also 'lost' Alex Morgan, but in reality considering they were merely using the points to make sure they could secure Mills it's hard to label it as such.
Gained: The clout to secure Mills, really.
Summary: Effectively Sydney gave up Craig Bird and the opportunity to draft Jade Gresham in exchange for Callum Mills and a smattering of later picks; it made their entire offseason about Mills, which in isolation is enough to say they 'won' their exchanges because they got the only thing they really wanted and didn't lose anything of value to them.
Lost: Jake Carlisle, Luke Partington, Tyrone Leonardis
Gained: Craig Bird, Aaron Francis, Alex Morgan
Summary: Let's face it, this trade boils down to a simple exchange. Essendon swapped Jake Carlisle for Aaron Francis and a dozen or so pretty serviceable games from Bird. You'd think Essendon would currently be very comfortable with this exchange.
Lost: Aaron Francis, Alex Morgan
Gained: Jake Carlisle, Jade Gresham
Inclined to think that with Jade Gresham being a best 22 player, this exchange has worked ok for the Saints. Had it been a Francis for Carlisle trade in isolation, I think this would be labelled a bust now.
No one has come out here a standout winner, and equally, no one has really lost the world.
The amazing part about this trade is that had the picks that ultimately ended up being 28 and 29 not turned in to busts, it could have been HEAVILY skewed one way or another; an entirely possible eventuality at the time when you consider the players that have been taken thereabouts to these picks in recent years such as Zach Merrett, Tim Kelly, Touk Miller.
Francis will be a gun and has talent for sure but wow has that bloke actually watched Gresham? Has Francis covered comfortably. Carlisle a very very good player of us obviously this year isn't ideal but if we can improve as a side and he comes back next year he'll get the due recognition.