NFL: D-Day looms for Valentine Holmes' American football dream

Valentine Holmes in action for Cronulla Sharks
Valentine Holmes in action for Cronulla Sharks. Photo credit: Getty

Valentine Holmes has been invited to join the NFL's New York Jets.

The former NRL star, who walked away from a $A5 million contract with Cronulla, will share a locker room with star running back Le'Veon Bell and quarterback Sam Darnold at the New Jersey-based Jets.

Holmes will also continue a strong Australian tradition at the team. The Jets' punter is Mornington Peninsula-raised Lachlan Edwards.

Geelong AFL great-turned punter Ben Graham was a member of the Jets from 2005-08, while another Victorian, Tom Hackett - a two-time Ray Guy Award winner - trialled with the team in 2016.

Holmes is a big fan of the Jets' crosstown rivals, the New York Giants.

"The Giants are my favourite team and it would be a amazing to play with them, but I would be pleased to play with any team," Holmes told AAP last week.

On Monday, the NFL announced that Holmes and other elite athletes in the International Pathway Programme had been allocated to teams in the AFC East division - the Jets, New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins.

British rugby union speedster Christian Wade will join the Bills. Brazilian judo champion Durval Neto was picked up by the Miami Dolphins and German tight-end Jakob Johnson will go with the Super Bowl champion Patriots.

Pathway players become members of team's practice squads and will not be eligible to play games.

The programme is designed to give elite athletes with little American football knowledge a chance to insert themselves with an NFL team and learn the game, without the pressure of being cut.

Holmes will be hit with a significant pay cut from his NRL days. Pathway players on NFL practice squads earn about US$129,200 (NZ$191,686) per season.

Holmes, the former Cronulla, Queensland and Australian representative fullback, and the other pathway players spent the past three months at Florida's IMG Academy, learning how to train and play American football.

Wade was part of the British Lions squad that toured Australia in 2013.

Holmes, who arrived back in Australia on Monday, remained tight-lipped about his future, when met by media in Sydney.

A year ago, South Sydney junior Jordan Mailata, a pathway graduate, was taken in the seventh round of the NFL Draft by Philadelphia Eagles.

But Holmes, 23, told AAP last week he did not believe he was eligible for the draft, because of his age.

Holmes has been training as a running back, wide-receiver and punt/kick returner.

Wade, 27, who scored 82 tries in the English Premiership for Wasps as a winger, has been earmarked by the Bills as a running back.

He participated with Holmes in a 'pro day' in Tampa Bay last week in front of NFL scouts.

Wade was timed at 4.53s in the 40-yard dash - just behind Holmes, who clocked 4.45s.