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Montreal Alouettes sign sought-after free-agent linebacker Henoc Muamba


MONTREAL — Henoc Muamba saw the veteran players the Montreal Alouettes signed this off-season and decided he may as well join them.

The high-profile free agent inked a three-year contract worth $185,000 per season, including bonuses, with the Alouettes on Thursday, giving Montreal a ratio-changing Canadian linebacker.

General manager Kavis Reed has made extensive roster changes after last seasons' 3-15 debacle, including the acquisition of Canadian defensive lineman Jamaal Westerman and American defensive backs Joe Burnett, Tommie Campbell and Dominique Ellis and receiver Chris Williams.

"I saw some of the guys they brought in and some of the guys that were already here and I'm excited," said Muamba, 29, who played four games for Montreal late in the 2015 campaign. "I think the future is bright for this team.

"A lot of changes were made since my last little stint here and I'm excited about that."

Muamba, who was released after two seasons in Saskatchewan despite being the Roughriders' nominee for the Outstanding Canadian award, was among the CFL's most sought-after free agents.

He visited Winnipeg, but Blue Bombers GM Kyle Walters announced March 20 that Muamba and his agent asked for too much money. 

"There was a bunch of teams. I even considered a few teams in the NFL," said Muamba. "So I took my time and that was one reason it took this long.

"It's a decision that was really calculated. I spoke to the (Alouettes) coaching staff, the management, and I loved what I was hearing from them."

He also liked the stability a three-year deal gave his young family, and that the Alouettes look to him to be a leader.

"I'm excited about that," he said. "It's going to be a good time.

"I won't be alone in doing this. Jamaal Westerman is a great leader already. (John) Bowman, everybody knows. He was someone I looked up to before I even started playing in the CFL."

Muamba brings more than football talent to the Alouettes. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, he spent part of his childhood in Montreal and is fluently bilingual, which should help the team's marketing efforts.

Or as Reed put it: "This is an indication that, holistically, we're trying to get everything right.

"We wanted to make certain (the team is) stable and can produce sustainable success. Three years shows a commitment from the Montreal Alouettes. It shows commitment to our fan base and to our community. Henoc is committed to getting this right and being part of this rebuild and turn-around."

Muamba had 82 defensive tackles and two interceptions in 17 games last season with Saskatchewan.

He was drafted first overall by Winnipeg in 2011 from St. Francis Xavier University and spent three seasons with the Blue Bombers before joining the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL in 2014.

In 73 career CFL games, he has 267 defensive tackles, six sacks and four interceptions.

Reed said one of his goals was to add depth to his pool of Canadian talent. The last item left on his free agent list is to sign a Canadian offensive lineman.

But while the roster looks stronger, the Alouettes still aren't sure who will play the most important position — quarterback. Former NFL starter Josh Freeman, returnees Drew Willy, Matt Shiltz and Antonio Pipkin and others will be assessed at a mini-camp April 16-18 in Vero Beach, Fla.

Reed also said there was no conflict with new coach Mike Sherman working in the new Your Call Football League, in which fans vote on which plays are called. The former Green Bay Packers bench boss will run a team that plays games on May 3, May 10 and May 17. Reed said Sherman had committed to the short-term job before signing with the Alouettes on Dec. 21.

It would have conflicted with the start of the Alouettes rookie camp scheduled for May 16, but Reed opted to cancel rookie camp and have all players report to the main camp on May 19.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

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