Cowboys sign Valentine Holmes on six-year deal

Valentine Holmes has taken all of 24 hours to cash in on his return from the NFL, inking a lucrative six-year deal with North Queensland starting in 2020.

The Cowboys announced his blue-chip signing on a bumper long-term contract – believed to be worth more than $5 million – on Sunday evening, tying him to the club until the end of 2025.

Holmes was released by the New York Jets on Saturday after ending his 12-month stint as an international player on their practice squad.

That deal was worth around $180,000 for the year in which he played in a handful of warm-up games.

But his return to rugby league will come as the centrepiece of a reshaped Cowboys backline, earning just shy of seven figures a season.

Holmes is expected to claim the No.1 jersey after starring at the back in his final year with Cronulla, claiming player of the year honours before leaving the club.

The 24-year-old is now back in his home town of Townsville and will work out when he will start training later this week.

"This is a wonderful signing for our club," Cowboys director of football Peter Parr said.

"It wasn't long ago that Valentine was one of the best players in the competition before his courageous decision to go to the NFL. His form in 2018 was as good as any player in the NRL, particularly in the second half of that season.

Valentine Holmes and his manager Chris Orr.
Valentine Holmes and his manager Chris Orr. ©cowboys.com.au

"He's a proven big-game player, he's won a grand final and he's played some terrific football for both Queensland and Australia.

"Valentine has been a top-class performer at wing and fullback and we've made no secret we had a desire to strengthen our outside back stocks.

"Val's record speaks for itself and we couldn't be more excited about securing him at the Cowboys for the next six seasons."

As well as offering a considerable boost to the Cowboys, Holmes is also expected to challenge once more for higher representative honours having been an Australian and Queensland regular before his NFL sojourn.

While James Tedesco is a lock as the Kangaroos' No.1 and Kalyn Ponga is in a similar position for the Maroons, Holmes was a revelation on the wing at both levels, with 13 Tests to his name and eight tries in five Origin appearances.

The Cowboys had set aside a large chunk of salary cap space for the best part of 12 months in the hope Holmes would return to the game, having already been in negotiations to lure him north in late-2018.

Holmes's lucrative signing will mean North Queensland will boast three players in he, Michael Morgan and Jason Taumalolo earning around $1 million a season.

But after an underwhelming 14th-placed finish in 2019, their second straight year outside the top eight, his recruitment is viewed as a potential circuit breaker for Paul Green's side.

Star Cowboys signing Valentine Holmes
Star Cowboys signing Valentine Holmes