SYDNEY spearhead Sam Reid has firmed as this year's most highly coveted free agent behind Nat Fyfe and Dustin Martin while his contract talks with the Swans remain at a preliminary stage.
Reid last month declared his desire to stay with the Swans beyond 2017, but the former Murray Bushranger has attracted strong interest in Victoria, with industry sources saying Richmond and Collingwood head his long queue of suitors.
Midfielders Fyfe and Martin are unmistakably the prized catches in this year's free agency pool, with rival clubs prepared to offer both more than a $1 million a season. Some clubs could offer considerably more than that, especially for Fyfe.
However, with key forwards in demand across the competition and a 20 per cent salary cap hike expected from this year under the forthcoming CBA, rival clubs believe Reid could command offers of up to $800,000 a season.
The 25-year-old, who is in the final year of a lucrative five-season contract, remains in ongoing dialogue with Sydney via his manager, Paul Connors, but his future appears likely to remain uncertain for some time.
Reid's restricted status gives Sydney the right to match any rival offers made in October's free agency period, but the Swans' efforts to re-sign him could be complicated by their tight salary cap and the rising market worth of out-of-contract defender Zak Jones.
After missing the entire 2016 season with calf, hamstring and Achilles tendon problems, Reid has made a welcome return to form and fitness this year.
After seven rounds, he has played every game and averaged 13.6 possessions and 5.1 marks. He is also ranked second at the Swans for goals (11), contested marks (nine) and marks inside 50 (11), and equal second for goal assists (five).
Reid is understood to be happy to focus on his football for the moment, confident that the more he plays the more he underlines his on-field value.
Richmond has had its eye on Reid for some time, and the forward could help address the club's lack of aerial support for spearhead Jack Riewoldt.
Collingwood is also determined to add a quality key forward to an attack that since Travis Cloke's departure to the Western Bulldogs at the end of last year has relied on third-year tall Darcy Moore as its focal point.
The Tigers and Magpies are also, however, among a slew of Victorian clubs circling out-of-contract Lions youngster Josh Schache, and could have to decide later this year whether he or Reid is their No.1 priority.
Reid recently spoke emphatically about wanting to play on with the Swans.
"There is no reason why I would leave. I love the lifestyle, my soon-to-be wife is from Sydney so there are plenty of reasons to stay," Reid told News Corp last month.
"I'm focusing on what is happening on the field, I'm letting my management and the club sort that out. I just want to make sure I get out there and have an impact."