There is a pattern there:Gold Coast Suns had less going for them than we have and they managed to get Witts, Greenwood, Weller, Collins and Ellis in recent years. That's five recruits who are better than our best recruit in that time (Sinclair).
Brisbane the same. Cameron, McCarthy, Neale, Lyons, Robinson, Birchall. That's six recruits better than our best in that time.
Port Adelaide the same. Rockliff, Burton, McKenzie, Dixon, Lycett and Jonas. Another six better than ours in that time.
Fremantle, who had a polarising coach and a toxic culture, still managed to get Lobb, Colyer, Wilson, Conca and Hamling. That's five better than our best. (Which is not even including potentially-better ones like Hogan, McCarthy, Aish and Acres.)
All interstate clubs. All with question marks over their status as "destination clubs" at the time. All average teams when they signed most of those players. So I don't buy the we're an interstate club excuse, or the trade ban excuse, or the COLA excuse. We just haven't traded as well as others, simple as that.
One of them is a AFL lovechild with considerable extra$
All of them finished lower on ladder for years
Swans - hardly ever missed top end challenge till 2018
They are not bound by (Not silly, for lotz of reasons) superstar wage backend ... imposing limits on CAP
AND it costs dollars