Valentine Holmes is coming back to the NRL having signed a 6-year deal with the North Queensland Cowboys having lasted just 7 months in the NFL. One of the most exciting and dynamic full-backs in the game has abandoned his NFL dream to return to his first love.
While Valentine Holmes stint in the NFL can only be described as disappointing, the real story is back in Cronulla where Sharks’ bosses are livid that he is returning to the NRL after just one season. Sharks captain Paul Gallen even called for Holmes to be banned from the game for two-seasons, stating that’s the minimum amount of time a player would need to commit to having any chance of an NFL career.
On the face of it, the argument carries some weight. As an international player, Holmes filled the 11th man spot on the New York Jets Practice Squad and wasn’t eligible to be on a game-day roster this season. So unless he had made the main roster out of training camp he was never going to play this season.
So this has all the earmarks of Holmes wanting to give it a shot knowing he would most likely come back in a year, and sign a lucrative deal for his hometown club. And in truth that’s what irks the Sharks the most.
Valentine Holmes is back in Oz
Would Holmes have made the Sharks better last season? Absolutely. Would he have extended his stay in Cronulla? Absolutely not. So the Sharks were losing him either way.
North Queensland were already keeping cap-space available for Holmes, so it looks like there may even have been a backroom deal done in advance for Holmes to return in 2020 regardless.
In all likelihood, Holmes genuinely wanted to give the NFL a shot. There’s no reason to think he would skip a good year’s salary for the money on offer as an NFL International Development player. But having a ready build backup plan would clearly have been on his mind.
One thing that’s for sure is the Cowboys will be pushing for a finals spot this season having missed out by 5-points last season.. Adding the explosive Valentine Holmes to a lineup already featuring Jason Taumalolo and Esan Marsters will give defences headaches.
It’s understandable that the whole situation leaves a bad taste in the Shark’s mouths. There are very few players in the league with the ability, and physique, to have the potential to make this move, and Holmes was definitely one of them. His failure may stop others from trying for a while. In the meantime, the league may step in and enact a rule forcing players to sit for two-seasons.