Valentine Holmes could return to the NRL for the start of the 2020 season but it is hugely unlikely he will be coming back to the shire.
The former Cronulla fullback is reportedly considering ending his pursuit of a career in the NFL with the New York Jets, with North Queensland in pole position to secure his signature.
News Corp have reported that Holmes will meet with Cowboys coach Paul Green in New York on Tuesday night to discuss a potential return to the NRL with North Queensland.
The Cowboys have apparently set aside money in their salary cap to accommodate Holmes for next season.
Cronulla are already under salary cap pressure for next season with the fall out from their salary cap cheating scandal.
The Sharks were forced to play $350,000 under their salary cap last season and will have the same restrictions placed upon them next season.
Cronulla are salary cap compliant for where they need to be under the NRL's rules at this stage of the year and are confident they will remain compliant come the start of the 2020 season.
Reports have suggested the Sharks are actively trying to shop highly-paid stars Matt Moylan and Josh Dugan to rival clubs. But the Leader understands that is not the case. And it would be nearly impossible for Cronulla to make a play to re-sign Holmes unless they were to part ways with both former representative stars.
Holmes was granted a release from the final year of his contract with the Sharks late last year, turning down a lucrative extension that would have made him the highest-paid player in the history of the Cronulla club.
The 24-year-old left Australia to chase a career in the NFL and was picked up by the Jets as part of the league's International Pathways Program. But Holmes is not eligible to play during the 2019 NFL season under the rules of the program.
Holmes was able to compete for a spot on the Jets' 53-man roster during training camp and pre-season and could have be an active member of the squad in the regular season if he had made that roster.
Instead, Holmes was guaranteed a place in the practice squad as an additional 11th player, reportedly on less than $200,000 per year.
Originally from Townsville, Holmes arrived in the Sutherland Shire as a 17-year-old to join Cronulla. He went on to become part of the club's maiden premiership-winning side under coach Shane Flanagan.
His signing would be a huge coup for the Cowboys who have missed the finals in the last two seasons.