The North Queensland Cowboys have more players coming off-contract at the end of the 2024 NRL season than most others as we approach November 1, and have a lot of work to do on the roster front.

While Todd Payten's troops from Townsville endured through a disappointing 2023 season in attempting to back up their 2022 and may be looking to hold out to see if 2024 starts any better.

But the issue that, as it stands, 16 players are abou to become free agents to negotiate with rivals, and a number of them - most namely Tom Dearden - will be targetted by opposition outfits.

While the Cowboys are confident of retaining Dearden, it's unclear who they want to retain out of the rest, and there could be some retirements inbound as well, further complicating matters.

In this series Zero Tackle are running the rule over all 17 of the NRL's clubs and what they will be looking to do from November 1.

Current squad for 2025
Reuben Cotter, Scott Drinkwater, Tom Duffy, Jack Gosiewski, Valentine Holmes, Luciano Leilua, Heilum Luki, Jeremiah Nanai, Griffin Neame, Reece Robson, Murray Taulagi, Jason Taumalolo, Viliami Vailea

Current best 17 for 2025
1. Scott Drinkwater
2. Murray Taulagi
3. Valentine Holmes
4. Viliami Vailea
5. No player signed.
6. No player signed.
7. Tom Duffy
8. Griffin Neame
9. Reece Robson
10. Reuben Cotter
11. Jeremiah Nanai
12. Luciano Leilua
13. Jason Taumalolo
14. No player signed.
15. Jack Gosiewski
16. Heiulum Luki
17. No player signed.

Players off-contract at end of 2024
Emarly Bitungane, Tom Chester, Jake Clifford, Tom Dearden, Robert Derby, Kyle Feldt, Jake Granville, Coen Hess, Zac Laybutt, Sam McIntyre, Mia Pua'avase, Jamal Shibasaki, Wil Sullivan, Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, Chad Townsend, Semi Valemei

Here are five players available to negotiate on November 1 from outside of the club the Cowboys could target for 2025 and beyond.

2. Nick Cotric

Sticking with the outside backs, and it's hard to justify any reason why the Cowboys shouldn't be making a play for Canberra Raiders winger Nick Cotric.

We have already touched on this within the series, but Cotric's age, at just 24, means he is actually entering his prime, and the talent he actually has is a lot more than he has been able to show in the last year or two.

Injuries and a failed stint at the Bulldogs haven't helped the winger who can also line up in the centres, but it must be noted he was a New South Wales Blues representative at one point.

That didn't happen by accident.

Powerful and knowing how to find the tryline, Cotric will also improve that edge defence that became such a worry for Todd Payten and his side last season.

The Raiders probably won't let Cotric go without a fight, but there are plenty of clubs who should be making a play here.