NRL Rd 10 - Warriors v Panthers
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 06: Dylan Edwards of the Panthers heads for the tryline during the round 10 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and Penrith Panthers at Suncorp Stadium on May 06, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Penrith Panthers star fullback Dylan Edwards has reportedly given the club's most recent contract offer the cold shoulder.

Reports suggested the Panthers had offered the star fullback, who was named as a reserve in the Kangaroos' squad for last year's Rugby League World Cup and could be on the State of Origin selection radar next year for the New South Wales Blues, a three-year deal worth $850,000 per season.

While it's believed Edwards only wants a longer-term deal to remain at the foot of the mountains, there is little doubt about his standing as one of the game's best fullbacks.

That, in short, means he could easily command up to $1 million per season if he went to the free agency market from November 1 this year instead of re-signing with the Panthers before that deadline when all players off-contract at the end of 2024 can freely negotiate with rival clubs.

In truth, there aren't many clubs that might be out searching for an upgrade in the number one jersey, such is the rich talent pool of fullbacks currently available across the NRL, but the ones who are will be desperate to rip Edwards away from the foot of the mountains.

After running the rule over the squads for 2025 as they they stand, Zero Tackle can reveal the five who need to be lining up in no orderly fashion in an attempt to secure Edwards' signature if he is still uncontracted on November 1.

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1. St George Illawarra Dragons

The Dragons will be rumoured to go after just about every big name coming off-contract at the end of the 2024 season.

While incoming coach Shane Flanagan wants to make the club's rebuild as immediate as possible, it'll be difficult to do much for 2024 given so much of the squad is locked in and so little remains on the free agency market.

Flanagan has already indicated he wants to go after Joseph Manu, who is also off-contract at the end of 2024, but as it stands, the noise from both Manu's management and the Roosters themselves is that he won't be going anywhere.

While the Dragons will likely have a shootout between Zac Lomax and Tyrell Sloan during 2024, a player like Edwards would be an immediate upgrade to the Red V.

The club have undoubtedly struggled in attack in recent years, and while it'll be intriguing to see what Flanagan can get out of whichever player he goes for at the back, Edwards should be a priority target for the Red V if he is still uncontracted on November 1.

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