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NFL free agency is a buyer's market

05/08/2013 9:18 AM ET
By Matt Hughes

The Giants remain optimistic they will re-sign free agent Victor Cruz.(AP)
For top NFL free agents, the buyer's market is a test of patience.

Nearly two weeks after the NFL Draft, teams are still counting their chickens heading into summer training camps. Meanwhile, many top NFL free agents are waiting, patiently or otherwise, for the phone to ring. 

Victor Cruz, the standout wide receiver and homegrown talent for the New York Giants, is a restricted free agent and on the verge of his first big-money NFL pay day. Cruz, 26, reportedly wants $10 million a year, but the Giants are offering around $7 million. Cruz would no doubt like to get his much-anticipated deal done, but the savvy Giants know better.

Team co-owner John Mara said about the negotiations with Cruz, "This is not that atypical a situation. Player contracts, particularly with star players like Victor, can tend to drag on from time to time. I think we'll get it done."

Given Cruz's production on the field and popularity with the fans during the last two seasons with the Giants, a deal seems imminent. But in a more player-friendly free agent cycle, Cruz might have been signed much sooner. So for now, Cruz is still waiting. 

Smart NFL teams are finessing the free agent market to find the best value. As the draft has become increasingly important for building a team's talent base, the veteran free agent market has tilted in their favor. The new theme across the NFL is to buy low and earn a significant return on that investment.  

On the other end of the free agent spectrum is defensive end Dwight Freeney. After 11 mostly stellar seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, Freeney is essentially shopping his services on the free agent market for the first time. While he is likely past his prime as an every-down player most NFL insiders still view Freeney as a force on pass rushing downs -- a talent every NFL team covets. 

There is reportedly mutual interest between the Denver Broncos and Freeney, but so far the only action is the seven-time Pro Bowl selection dropping his asking price. Just like Cruz, a deal seems imminent for Freeney but only when the price -- and the timing -- is to the Broncos' liking.

Other top free agents still on the market include safety Charles Woodson, defensive end John Abraham, defensive end Richard Seymour and running back Ahmad Bradshaw. All talented players who, for one reason or another, are playing the long waiting game of NFL free agency. 

Their deals will come too. In due time. 

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