What the Henoc Muamba deal means for the Alouettes

By getting Henoc Muamba under contract the Alouettes have a proven middle linebacker in place.

Montreal released Bear Woods just days into training camp last season and three players, including two rookies, started at middle linebacker (MAC or MIKE) for Montreal: Dominique Tovell, Anthony Saro and veteran Kyries Hebert.

Tovell started the season in the middle of the Als defence playing nine games total and making 47 tackles and adding one interception for a touchdown. Sarao suited up in two August games registering nine tackles, one forced fumble and one sack. Hebert manned the spot for the majority of games down the final stretch of the season.

Hebert was released after a career-best 110 tackles and East Division Most Outstanding Player campaign. The Angry Bird seems to be a freak in terms of playing at a high level despite his age – 37. But the fact the Alouettes felt more comfortable with Hebert in the middle even when the team was out of the playoff race tells us all we needed to know about their confidence in the young players Tovell and Sarao.

Muamba stabilizes the middle linebacker position. He is coming off his best season since the CFL all-star campaign he put together with the Bombers in 2013. The 29-year-old played in 17 games for Saskatchewan making 82 tackles, three forced fumbles and two interceptions to earn the Riders Most Outstanding Canadian award. He can play at a high level and brings the key Canadian passport which provides the Als with ratio flexibility.

Before the 29-year-old ratio breaker signed with Montreal, the Alouettes probable plan for starting seven Canadians: three offensive linemen, two defensive linemen and two defensive backs. The Alouettes brought in Jamaal Westerman in free agency who factors into that national equation, paying him handsomely to do so. Muamba, a similar type of impact maker with a Canadian passport would have commanded a similar salary. But because the Alouettes are not paying a quarterback elite money, the team can supplement the roster in other areas, namely ratio flexibility.

With Muamba in the fold, Montreal has players at seven different positions with solid starting experience as Canucks: Westerman (x2), Muamba, Chris Ackie, Dondre Wright, Tevaughn Campbell, Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, Philip Blake, Kristian Matte, Philippe Gagnon. And George Johnson saw some time at receiver last season. That leaves options for ratio iterations based on health.

Perhaps most importantly, the Alouettes could be free to select the best players available at No. 1 overall in the CFL draft. General manager Kavis Reed wanted a player who can contribute in year one, but if the team feels comfortable with the current ratio construction it could take an athlete who that has the highest ceiling possible or be patient waiting on an elite Canadian prospect to exhaust all NFL opportunities.

Muamba provides stability and options for the Alouettes.

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.
Justin Dunk
Justin Dunk
About Justin Dunk (902 Articles)
Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.

25 Comments on What the Henoc Muamba deal means for the Alouettes

  1. Next off season Muamba will be the first player Reed cuts as the Als will want a scapegoat. Seems he never learns. Good luck to Henoc watching every team finish above his.

    • Open season on Kavis Reed again…give us a break. Best of luck to Henoc and the Montreal Alouettes.

      • Paul Bomber // April 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm //

        Good on you for wanting to give him a chance. I admit I’m a big-time Kavis trasher, but here’s hoping Montreal gets a team this year worth caring about… get some bums back in the seats at McGill and dial up what I thought was a budding rivalry with Ottawa!

        • Get ready to keep trashing. With all his eggs ($$) in one basket, he would have anything left over the build the rest of the team. He can take his brother too as far as I’m concerned.

      • Last “open season” on Kavis Reed we ended up 3-15. Time to stop using “bird-shot”.

  2. Getting tired of hearing the term “ratio breaker” – how about the CFL reducing the Canadian ratio. A ratio reduction would give teams more flexibility and reduce salaries. The Canadian draft has been pretty thin the past few years and the cream of the crop, the NCAA Canadians are staying south of the border.
    The CIS producing less quality players every year.
    At one time kickers were Canadian, but now it’s rare to find a decent CIS kicker.

    • This Canadian Draft has a great depth of talented players. Sorry, I disagree with you the ratio is one of the greatest parts of the Canadian game. There is depth in this draft at WR, OL, DB and incredible special teams demons.

    • Paul Bomber // April 12, 2018 at 1:16 pm //

      yikes! Hate that idea
      I get what you’re saying, but for me personally, I’d hate to see the ratio drop even lower. And besides, it seems to me that every year, there are questions around the top 4-5 prospects along the lines of “Why waste a pick on this guy… he’s going to the NoFunLeague anyway!”.

    • Check your facts, my friend.

      The CIS is producing more quality players than ever before – – as evidence by CIS alum playing in the NFL now.

      Rob Maver is a CIS grad. As is Hajruahu. And Bo Bede.

      Please educate yourself before making any further factually incorrect proclamations.

    • How about making it 4 downs? It’s really hard to generate offense with only 3. And isn’t the field way too big? And why are the uprights at the front of the end zone. Heck, you might hit them when you throw a td pass….so silly. And what’s with that “rouge” thing? Crazy.

      There’s nothing like the American perspective on our game.

  3. Not a band wagon jumper // April 12, 2018 at 11:55 am //

    I hope there is no bonus money payable next spring… only a goof would go back to the team that stiffed him before.

  4. Henoc will make the money but have no fun playing football.

  5. rogieshan // April 12, 2018 at 12:28 pm //

    Unfortunately, still missing a #1 QB, and you cannot draft one of those in the CFL. Reed cannot realistically expect Freeman to be an immediate difference maker. Huge hole.

  6. They should replace “national” with the term “ratio breaker” haha, sounds more cool at least.

    • MJ Bandit // April 12, 2018 at 2:13 pm //

      The ratio never “breaks” or busts or changes – just stupid, hackneyed CFL cliches – it’s the same for all teams –
      x minimum number of Nationals on the roster and that shakes out to a minimum 7 starters.

      CFL rosters always feature maximum number of imports and minimum number of Canadian players as per the rules. This is the choice of the GMs & coaches in charge of personnel – rosters could easily feature more Canadian talent. And Canadians can play any position – a starter at position x or y doesn’t “break” the ratio in any way.

      The ratio should be increased to include more Canadian talent getting to play in the pro league in their own country. There is room for plenty of good American talent and impact players, but a number of import players on CFL rosters are often just not that good or better than Canadians who could be playing instead. They are favored by the mostly Americans running the league however. IMO.

      Want to watch lots of American football talent? – there’s the NFL or NCAA ball – tons of football talent to watch there. I’d rather see more Canadian talent get to play in the CFL.

  7. This is a huge signing for Montreal. They needed a competent MLB and desperately needed some NI talent. Muamba addresses both issues.

    Unfortunately, they’re still stuck with a hopeless coaching staff and a completely useless QB.

    • The Als have six very good young prospects at the QB position. The only way to get a franchise QB is to build one. Last season they lost with an overpaid vet at QB. So why not?

      • Ahahahahahaha. Name ONE.

      • In Bridge, Cato and Adams Jr. the Alouettes DID have 3 potential stars of the future.

        Reed didn’t axe Bridge, but he did Cato and Adams, then proceeded to lecture the fans, saying he needed to educate us about the need to be patient and develop young QB talent.

        Then he went and signed Freeman.

  8. This should help the Montreal defense, but I have never figured out why they fired Noel Thorpe.

    • They fired Noel Thorpe because Kavis Reed gutted the polyvalent defensive stars he needed to run his unique style of defense.

      AND ALL SO REED COULD AFFORD TO SIGN DARIAN DURANT. The offense was so bad, the best “d” in the league wouldn’t have been able to hold the fort.

      Why does Kavis Reed still have a job?

  9. GreenGiant // April 12, 2018 at 3:53 pm //

    Yes, Henoc and Jamaal are good pick ups. The major factor the washes all of this away is the “Kavis Factor”. Sorry Als, the dude is junk.

  10. I still think the Als should draft the receiver Chapman at #1. He looks as though he could start by the time August rolls around


    There is no point writing about anything else concerning the Alouettes this season.

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