Riders Release Muamba: What Now?
Published: Wednesday, Feb 14th 2018, 6:02pm
by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)
The Saskatchewan Roughriders have released starting Middle Linebacker Henoc Muamba, a day before he was due a $35,000 bonus. We've seen plenty of CFL players released before a bonus is due, but this one isn't sitting well with me for a few reasons.
First, Muamba was already given a $35,000 bonus in January as a roster bonus. If they already paid that, they were clearly prepared to pay this one too, otherwise, why not release him before that original bonus was due? I know plans change and the Riders took on more salary in the Charleston Hughes trade, but this is a starting Canadian. You can't afford to lose those. This just seems to be a poor use of cap management by the Riders.
Second, who is his replacement? The newly signed Sam Hurl? This would keep the ratio in tact, but this is a huge downgrade, no disrespect to Sam Hurl, but he is no Henoc Muamba. Cameron Judge is the other Canadian Linebacker that could fill the role, but he only played a few games last season and you can't trust that going into an all in type of season like 2018 is shaping up to be. Do they go to an American MLB instead? Bear Woods? Tank Reed? Recruit a young player from the States to make league minimum? Either way, our LB unit took a big hit.
Third, should they go to an American as a starter, where do they make up that Canadian starter? Is it newly acquired Jerome Messam that starts full time at Running Back? If that's the plan, I worry about the longevity of it. While Messam is still very affective, he has had injury issues lately and who knows if he can handle a full workload much longer. Assuming that the plan with the ratio is to go with 3 starters on O-Line (Brendan Labatte, Dan Clark and Peter Dyakowski), 1 at Receiver (Rob Bagg), 1 at Safety (either Jeff Hecht, Mike Edem or Marc-Olivier Brouillette) and 1 at Defensive Tackle (Zack Evans), that leaves a spot open to either Hurl/Judge or Messam. It's good to have options, but I'm not sold that these are the best options.
I get the money reasons for Muamba's release (and the Derek Dennis release, as combined that saves $400,000 on the salary cap), but it's the timing more than anything that bugs me. But, if we've seen anything in the past 2 years, it's that Chris Jones has a plan and we shouldn't be too worried. In Jones we trust!