Benji Marshall will have to accept a cut-price contract to extend his NRL playing career at Brisbane next year.
The Broncos are close to locking in all the key pieces of their salary cap puzzle for 2018 after centre James Roberts accepted a four-year contract extension this week.
With skipper Darius Boyd close to coming to terms on a four-year extension and Jordan Kahu similarly poised to re-sign, Marshall and Adam Blair remain the only big names not on contract for next year.
Marshall has found a new lease on life in Queensland after being thrown a lifeline by coach Wayne Bennett this year.
After exiting St George Illawarra in ugly circumstances, he accepted a contract for 2017 worth a reported $100,000.
The Broncos have retained a bulk of their roster and will add NSW star Jack Bird to their squad next year meaning Marshall will once again have to accept unders to remain at Red Hill.
"There's room for Benji but we just can't afford to pay him what he's worth on the market," Bennett said.
"We have to put our money into place with our younger players and we've done that. We can't afford to lose him. We brought Jack here and we can't afford to lose Kodi (Nikorima), we can't afford to lose Jordan.
"Hopefully Benji will stay, he's happy here, he loves being here, we love having him here."
Marshall has opened talks with Brisbane and Bennett confirmed he would like to give the 32-year-old another season.
The Kiwi veteran started the season in Queensland Cup but has added depth to the Broncos' roster as a back-up to halves Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford.