The nightmare that was the 2013 Winnipeg Blue Bombers season has quickly extended into the off-season as the Bombers front office continues to fire blanks in its bid to make off-season improvements.
After failing twice in the past week to land a starting quarterback, the Bombers announced this morning that they have now lost their most valuable player, linebacker Henoc Muamba.
The club says that Muamba -- Winnipeg’s outstanding player nominee and the top Canadian in the CFL’s East Division in 2013 -- has been released so he can pursue NFL opportunities.
"Henoc is a great player, and an even better person. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers wish him the best in his pursuit of employment in the National Football League, and sincerely thank him for his contributions, both on and off the field, with our organization," Bombers GM Kyle Walters said in a statement released by the team this morning.
Muamba has had numerous NFL workouts over the off-season -- as many as 10 by one estimate -- and most recently worked out with the Baltimore Ravens.
Muamba -- the first overall pick in the 2011 CFL entry draft -- played all 18 regular season games for the Bombers in 2013 and was one of the lone bright spots in an otherwise miserable 3-15 campaign. His 106 defensive tackles in 2013 were second overall in the CFL and his Canadian passport at the middle linebacker position made him a coveted ratio-changer.
He was the CFL’s East Division nominee as the league’s top Canadian in 2013, but lost to West Division nominee Jon Cornish of the Calgary Stampeders.
Walters said at the end of the 2013 season that his two top priorities this winter were to re-sign Muamba before he became a free agent, which would have happened on Feb. 11, and to land an experienced quarterback to be the team’s starter in 2014.
Quarterback Zach Collaros rebuffed an offer from Winnipeg last week to sign instead with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, while QB Henry Burris spurned the Bombers on Tuesday to sign instead with an expansion franchise in Ottawa that has yet to even play a game.
Add today’s loss of Muamba and, as hard as it is to believe, the Bombers are actually worse off now than when they wrapped up the 2013 season with just three wins, having now also lost their leader on defence to go along with the continuing void in that department on offence.