CFL teams across the country were thrown a curveball two days into free agency when Saskatchewan cut Canadian linebacker Henoc Muamba.
The former Blue Bomber was released right before he would have received a roster bonus: he was reportedly due $35,000 had he remained in green through Feb. 15.
All of a sudden, a solid (though expensive) Canadian linebacker is available. Could a return to Winnipeg be in the cards?
“Anytime a player of that calibre becomes available, particularly a Canadian player, every team is doing the same thing that we are,” Bombers GM Kyle Walters told reporters Thursday.
“You take a look at your salary cap, at your roster and you start to ask how or can this work. Is it realistic or not?”
When asked how realistic it actually is for Winnipeg to sign Muamba, Walters didn’t exactly answer the question.
“Everybody’s looking at him. His agent does a good job. He’ll take all the offers, they’re patient, they’ll wait out for the right offer,” Walters said. “I don’t know what to expect. I can’t get a read on him at all. I think after being released, players like to take a little bit of time to digest the entire situation before they are interested in jumping right back in.”
Archived: Bombers release Henoc Muamba
Muamba wore the Blue and Gold for three seasons from 2011 through 2013 before taking a shot at the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts. He returned to the CFL with Montreal for four games in 2015 before suiting up for the Riders each of the past two seasons.
“He’s a quality Canadian starter, which puts him at a premium,” Walters said. “But they’re not even thinking about offers yet. Other than just saying, ‘Henoc’s been released,’ they’re going to take a deep breath and figure out what their next move is.”
Walters indicated that he’s satisfied with the players he has signed over the past few months, bringing back most of the core of last year’s team that hosted a playoff game for the first time in six years.
On top of the returning core, the offence was bolstered by the additions of receivers Adarius Bowman and Nic Demski, backup quarterback Darian Durant, running back Kienan LaFrance and defensive back Chandler Fenner.
But many fans believed the linebacker position was a spot that needed to be addressed, especially after Sam Hurl was picked up by the Riders. However, Walters feels the team is in good shape, expressing confidence in veteran Ian Wild and emerging second-year player Jovan Santos-Knox.
Bringing in a player like Muamba wouldn’t hurt, either, but Walters made it clear that someone would likely have to be moved or cut to make room.
“As of right now, I think we’re okay, but you’re always looking to add some talent. Making some tough decisions are a part of that, the give and take of a hard salary cap system,” Walters said of the team’s financial situation. “It’s a moving piece, but you don’t need to be under the cap until the end of the year.”
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