Valentine Holmes is a step closer to a return to rugby league after his release from the New York Jets' NFL practice squad.
The 24-year-old Holmes joined New York in April as a running back-wide receiver as part of the NFL's international player pathway program.
North Queensland is expected to be his NRL destination.
A premiership player in the NRL for Cronulla, Holmes headed to the United States for a chance to pursue his dream of playing American football in the NFL.
Holmes took part in off-season workouts, training camp and the pre-season with New York but failed to land a berth on Jets' roster for the current NFL season.
His release clears the way for a return to the NRL where he has been strongly linked to a move to North Queensland.
Any deal with the Cowboys will be reportedly worth around $1 million a season.
Despite missing a place on the Jets' roster, Holmes remained in the American football system.
As part of the NFL's program, all four AFC East teams received an extra spot on their practice squads this season for players to continue working.
Holmes had one year left on his NRL deal and passed up a reported $700,000 when he was granted a release from his Sharks contract after the 2018 season.
As one of the bona fide stars of the NRL, Holmes was a key member of Cronulla's 2016 premiership campaign and became a fixture in Queensland and Australian sides.
Speaking about his NFL experience before the start of the regular season, Holmes said he was thankful for the chance.
"Yeah, it's been awesome," he told the New York Jets website.
"I'm excited I got to play in all four (pre-season) games and I'm very grateful the Jets gave me that opportunity.
"I'm happy with how much time I got, whether it was a couple of minutes or 10 minutes or whatever. I'm just very grateful to be here."