Henoc Muamba sensed his Riders release coming

Henoc Muamba had an inkling he wouldn’t be in Saskatchewan for the 2018 CFL season.

The Riders gave Muamba his $35,000 off-season payment in January, but the 29-year-old has been in pro football since 2011 and knew that didn’t guarantee playing out the final year of his contract in Regina, especially with another large bonus due in February.

“I wasn’t thinking that I got my first one and my second one is coming that means I’m going to stay here. I really take it day by day, week to week and year to year. I’ve been in the league for long enough to know the language that general managers, so I have a good feel for the industry, the business,” Muamba, who recently signed with the Alouettes, said.

“I kind of saw it coming. So it wasn’t the biggest shock to me. People were more shocked when they heard about the actual announcement. But I was shocked way before the announcement when that process kind of started. The announcement itself was not a shock to me.”

Despite being released by two teams with off-season bonuses looming – Montreal let him go in February 2016 to avoid making a payment – Muamba believes those (potential) payments are important.

“I have a great agent in Johnathon Hardaway, I would even say the best agent out there. I could be biased but he’s the one who negotiates my contracts and I’ve been with him from the beginning of my professional career until now and I really trust him and I know that he wants the best for me,” Muamba said. “I love the way he does business as well, I love how he structures my contracts, but it’s not just how you structure the contract it’s also the value of the player that you’re structuring the contract for. You have to know your value and the more you can bring to the table the more you can negotiate and ask for when it comes time to it.”

The Riders shopped Muamba in advance of cutting him loose, never an easy process for a player.

“I heard about the trade rumours around the same time I had the feeling where this was headed. Another reason why I knew is because I’ve been in the business long enough and in the league long enough to know when and how certain things will happen. I also have the right perspective of what this business and what this league is about and how it operates,” Muamba said

“I’m actually very interested in business when I’m done [playing] I plan on getting involved in a lot of business, not necessarily in football, but running a business. So having that mentality as well I see and understand some GMs perspectives and mentalities – you have to understand supply and demand. It’s good to have that mentality as well to know when people want to negotiate certain things or want to change certain things with respect to the contract and the business side of things. That’s one of the reasons why I wasn’t too shocked.”

Last season with the Riders, Muamba had his best year since the CFL all-star campaign he put together in 2013, playing in 17 games making 82 tackles, three forced fumbles and two interceptions to earn the Riders Most Outstanding Canadian award. He would’ve made around $220,000 in 2018 under the original three-year pact signed with Saskatchewan if he stayed in green and white.

“I’ve always approached this game, especially at this level you have to understand – as fun as the game is and as good as it is to me and my family – there is a business side to it. I understand that I am my own business. With that being said, I know my worth, I know what I offer as well, what I bring to the table to a team. Understanding that with respect to the market and understanding yourself is important moving forward when you talk about business,” Muamba said.

The St. Francis Xavier University product played parts of two seasons in Riderville and Muamba will always remember opening new Mosaic Stadium and the passionate fanbase.

“It was a great atmosphere to be able to open up a new stadium out there was amazing. I had a good time in Saskatchewan and I have a lot of love for a lot of the guys in that locker room. I made some great friends, probably some friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life. The fans in Saskatchewan were definitely one of the best fans in the CFL,” Muamba said.

“Some tough decisions have to be made when it comes to business. And if that’s what happened, one of the reasons you don’t hear any anger in my voice, part of being a professional is understanding it is what it is.”