Saturday, February 17, 2018
BOMBERS TO PURSUE MUAMBA
The general manager met with the media to talk about the team's moves since CFL free agency began on Tuesday, but questions quickly turned to Muamba's release by the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Wednesday.
Walters said he's let the agent of the veteran Canadian linebacker know Winnipeg is interested.
"He's a Canadian starter, a quality Canadian starter, which in our league is at a premium,'' Walters said.
"Everybody right now will kind of take a look at their roster and their ratio and say, 'Can we or can we not fit Henoc in? What's the price point? How does it fit with the ratio?' ''
Muamba, 28, has been in and out of the league since Winnipeg drafted him first overall in 2011.
He played three seasons with the Bombers before the pending free agent was released early in 2014 to pursue the NFL. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts, but got let go and joined the Montreal Alouettes in September 2015.
After playing the remainder of that season with the Als, he was released to try the NFL again in 2016. He signed with Dallas, but was cut and joined Saskatchewan in the fall. He played five games that season and 17 last year, recording 82 tackles, 11 special teams tackles, two interceptions and three forced fumbles.
While the six-foot, 230-pound middle linebacker is now a coveted free agent, the cost for his services is expected to be high.
The Riders released him before he was reportedly due a $35,000 bonus on Feb. 15. His price tag could be around $200,000 per season.
Walters said offers aren't even being taken yet by Muamba and his agent.
"They're not even thinking about that,'' he said. "Other than just saying that Henoc's been released, they're just going to take a deep breath and figure out what their next move is.''
Any deal with Muamba would affect Winnipeg's roster and bank account.
"When you're talking about that kind of price point, and based on what I anticipate based on what he's been earning, I would imagine they're going to want to earn a similar dollar figure,'' Walters said.
"The way we're currently set up, if you're going to want to add a Henoc Muamba, then something's got to give. That's just the reality of it.''
Walters said he believes the team has linebackers who can get the job done at the middle or MAC spot if Muamba doesn't pan out.
"Jovan Santos-Knox for the latter half of the year was a dynamic football player,'' he said. "He played the WILL linebacker spot, he played MAC in college, so he can play either. And Ian Wild, he's back under contract. Ian's played both as well.''
Walters updated where the team is at after the first few days of free agency.
"The three guys we went aggressively hard after, we got,'' he said.
That trio included a pair of Winnipeggers - receiver Nic Demski and backup running back Kienan LaFrance - and American starting defensive back Chandler Fenner.
Prior to free agency, Winnipeg got deals done with quarterback Darian Durant to be a veteran backup to Matt Nichols and all-star receiver Adarius Bowman.
While the Bombers lost players such as defensive lineman Jamaal Westerman, defensive back T.J. Heath and linebacker Sam Hurl, Walters said the roster has improved and young players now have the opportunity to show their development.
That will be needed in the competitive West Division.
"Last year was tough, and everyone's changing and everyone's getting better,'' Walters said.
"Everybody seems strong, and who can win the tight ball games and who can stay out of injury trouble and survive those sort of things I think is going to be the difference.''