In a statement, the Crows said the outside midfielder – originally picked at Number 81 in the 2012 Draft – had “informed his teammates, coaches and staff he intends to explore his options during this year’s free agency period”.
However, in a twist that echoes Fremantle’s break with forward Cam McCarthy last week, the club has now effectively severed ties with Atkins, with Head of Football Adam Kelly saying: “After a great deal of thought and discussion, we mutually agreed that it is best for Rory to be released from his commitments at the club.”
“We respect and appreciate his honesty in coming to us and putting forward his intentions,” he added, saying the 26-year-old’s decision came after discussing his future with his manager.
“Rory is a quality person, popular and highly respected by everyone at our club,” Kelly said in a statement.
Atkins is the latest in a long line on Adelaide players to leave the club in tense circumstances, and appears likely to have found a suitor for a longer-term deal elsewhere.
He could yet be followed by fellow midfielder Brad Crouch, a restricted free agent who could snare the club a high draft prize if he opts to pursue other opportunities.
Atkins has played 101 games since his debut in the emotional 2015 Showdown played two weeks after the death of Crows coach Phil Walsh.
He was a member of the team that lost the Grand Final to Richmond in 2017.
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