Bryce Cartwright may not officially be an Eel yet, but the Sydney Morning Herald is convinced he's signed on the dotted line.
So let's look at what Cartwright can offer the 2021 squad.
With the release of veteran utility Brad Takairangi, the Eels lack any form of spark from the bench. It was a major criticism of Brad Arthur's squad selection this season that the Eels lacked a real point of difference in the 17 who could come on and change the game. In some matches, he went with four middle forwards, which is great if you have the ball and are controlling field position. Not so great if all those four do is offer decent tackling and hard running with little else to threaten the opposition.
The six again rule had a major impact on the way the game was played in 2020. While the Eels finished top four they could have and should have gone further than the second week of the finals.
Teams like Melbourne and Penrith always packed someone in the side who could change the momentum of the match.
Bryce Cartwright is a damaging ball runner and possesses some of the silkiest skills ever seen in a backrower. At his best he causes havoc on the edges and opens space for his halves and outside backs with good footwork and a miracle-like offload.
However Cartwright's greatest problem since moving to the Gold Coast Titans has seemingly been his effort or lack of it. He has, at times, looked completely disinterested and his defensive efforts were downright disgraceful for an NRL player.
To fit into Parramatta, his defence will need to improve out of sight. Brad Arthur has put a premium on defence and if Cartwright doesn't step up, he won't see first grade. Especially with the recruitment of another edge forward in Isaiah Papli'i who willl also push for a top 17 position.
The other problem is a seeming attitude problem which probably links to his defence. It's not clear what caused this, although the Eels squad is a fair bit different to the Titans. The Titans team Cartwright went to was bottom of the table, it lacked leadership, direction and experience.
The Eels are a top four side, they possess Origin players and there is a lot more experience in the forward pack with the likes of Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Junior Paulo and Ryan Matterson. It's unlikely those players would let Cartwright slacken off and cruise through.
To add to this, it is important to point out that if there any issues off the field, the issues need to be dealt with and if that means Cartwright spends time exclusively in reserve grade, away from first grade then so be it.
He's on a nearly bottom tier contract for one season.
This brings me to my final point. This is likely his last crack at an NRL career. If he doesn't manage it at Parramatta then it's unlikely any other club is going to buy a player going on 28 unless it's in that basket case of a competition called Super League.
There is a chance here for him to resurrect his career and he will be much closer to home in Parramatta so we could see his attitude shift in that case.
As much as Parramatta's recruitment has been questioned at times, they have picked up some diamonds in the rough. Manu Ma'u, Danny Wicks and Nathan Brown were all punts the club took. They all paid off. Reagan Campbell-Gillard was more of a known quantity but Brad Arthur re-energised him and he was back in NSW camp this season. Clint Gutherson was unwanted at Manly, hampered by an ACL tear and he's now a Dally M Fullback of the Year winner and an Origin representative.
The Eels, you can say, do have a record of resurrecting careers.
Ultimately this is up to Cartwright. If he wants it, he can be Parramatta's ace off the bench, sent on to cause havoc to opposing sides and provide a spark that has really been missing since Feleti Mateo donned the blue and gold and was the offload king.
Or he can continue down the path he set himself on at the Titans, play the season in reserve grade and be cast off at the end of the year.
At $130,000 he's a low risk purchase. We just hope if he does cause any issues in the playing group he is quickly shuffled off, never to be seen in blue and gold again.