Winnipeg Blue Bombers general manager Kyle Walters says he does not expect to get a deal done with Canadian linebacker Henoc Muamba.
Walters met with the Winnipeg media on Tuesday and said that the slow pace of negotiations – a hallmark of Muamba’s agent Jonathon Hardaway – and the steep asking price have led him to believe that the 29-year-old will take his talents elsewhere.
“Henoc and his agent have a track record of prolonging these things. They do their due diligence, it’s not a negative. They take their time and they will certainly look to maximize their value. That’s just their track record,” Walters told the media in Winnipeg Tuesday.
The Bombers wined and dined Muamba in late February. Muamba was drafted No. 1 overall in 2011 by the blue and gold.
“We brought Henoc out here three weeks ago, showed him our organization, told him what we were about – thought it went very well. It was our understanding that they were going to have a decision within 48 hours after returning from the visit.”
Muamba made a career-high 92 tackles earning him CFL all-star status in 2013 before leaving for the NFL. But Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea said “it’s a little premature yet to pencil him in” after Muamba visited the Manitoba capital.
“We presented an offer prior to Henoc coming out. We were prepared to make Henoc the second highest paid Canadian on our team and what we deemed as fair,” Walters said.
“We were certainly not prepared to offer Henoc Muamba a contract higher than Andrew Harris (set to make just under $200,000 for 2018), which is what they were asking for and it was not going to happen from our end for a multitude of reasons. We’ve been told that the offer that we put together was not going to get the job done. So Henoc won’t be coming here based on the communication that I’ve had.”
After returning north of the border from the NFL in 2015, Muamba signed a lucrative two-year deal with Montreal where he played four games in 2016. Then-general manager Jim Popp shopped Muamba prior to a $55,000 bonus that was due on Feb. 16, 2016 before releasing him that winter. Saskatchewan, one of the teams that considered trading for Muamba, signed him six months later following a stint with the Dallas Cowboys. Following two seasons in Saskatchewan, the Riders put Muamba on the trade block in mid-February, but, when no deal was consummated, the 28-year-old became a free agent after the Riders released him before an off-season payment that was due on February 15.
Last season Muamba had his best year since the CFL all-star campaign he put together in 2013. He played in 17 games and recorded 82 tackles, three forced fumbles, and two interceptions to earn the Riders’ Most Outstanding Canadian award.
With Winnipeg unwilling to sweeten their offer, the Montreal Alouettes – badly in need of Canadian talent – become the front runners for Muamba’s services.