Maiava Excited About Making the Move to Oakland
By Rodney S. Yap
Kaluka Maiava’s new zip code is Alameda, Calif., 94502.
“I’m really excited. I had a great run at Cleveland for four years,” said the Wailuku native. “Unfortunately things changed up there. But when one door closes, another one opens. I am really excited to be back on the West Coast, with a team I grew up watching.”
The former Baldwin High School standout who played linebacker at the University of Southern California liked what he saw in the Oakland Raiders training facility and the vibe he got from the coaching staff and owners when he met with them on Tuesday.
“I got to tour the facility, met all the coaches and the owners, and I just had a real comfortable feeling about it and everything looked good to me,” Maiava said.
“This was my first time going through the free-agency process and it was like college recruiting all over again. Where you take your trips and whatever feels the best to you. It’s a judgement call and along with that there’s the business side, with the money and all. In my case that was the best situation coming at me so far, so I figured I’d take it, I felt comfortable and I trust my instincts, so I went with it.”
On Wednesday, March 13, the 6-foot, 229-pound free agent agreed to a three-year, $6 million contract with the Raiders.
“This is a good start for me and I’m really excited to get things going. I’m glad the free agency process is over. I don’t like the uncertainty, so I’m glad to get it done as soon as possible, and looking forward to working with a new team and going into the right direction as soon as possible.”
Last season, Maiava started 13 games for Cleveland and finished with a career-high 53 tackles, recording two sacks and two forced fumbles. In 50 career games, he has 133 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks and five forced fumbles.
Maiava’s fourth-year salary with the Browns in 2012 was $694,125.
The Browns (5-11) changed coaches over the offseason, hiring Rob Chudzinski to replace Pat Shurmur. The change also meant Cleveland planned to switch from a base 4-3 defense to a 3-4 alignment.
ESPN football analyst Adam Schefter broke the news of Maiava’s signing on Twitter.
Schefter said: “The Raiders are beginning the arduous task of remaking their decimated front seven. . . . Maiava graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 4-3 outside linebacker, but played just 498 snaps. He will be a starter in Oakland.”
In a conference call with local reporters from the Bay Area, Maiava was asked what defense was best suited for him, a 3-4 or 4-3?
“We haven’t really gotten into scheme-wise and all the details on what I’m going to be doing, but I’m glad to get the business part out of the way and now we come back, we can work on actual football. I’ll play anything. Whatever the coaches need me to do, whatever it takes to win; I’ll play whatever spot they need me at.”
Maiava planned to return to Maui Thursday, March 14, as his older brother, Ilima, is expected to fight Adam Akau on Friday, March 15, in the semi-main event of Just Scrap IV at War Memorial Gym, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
“Oh yeah for sure I’ll be there. We’ve been waiting for him (Ilima) to fight somebody . . . and I’m not about to miss him kicking somebody’s butt.”
Maiava’s blue-collar approach to the game is similar to the Raiders’ working-class fan base and the “Raider Nation,” which includes some of the NFL’s most rowdy fans in the section known as the “Black Hole” at O.co Coliseum.
The media asked Maiava, what he would bring to the table for the Raiders?
“I’m a hard-nosed guy,” the 26-year-old responded. “I come to work every day and I lead by example. I’m not the ‘rah rah’ guy leading with speeches and stuff, but I lead by example. I’ll play hard. I’ll go to war with anybody and I feel my teammates will appreciate that. They’re getting a tough guy. I pride myself on being one of the tougher players and I’m here to win. Hopefully everything works out in that aspect.”
Oakland is a lot closer — and a lot warmer — to Maui than Ohio.
“My family is definitely happy. They were going crazy and I pretty much had to hang up on my mom and dad, they were talking my ear off. I told the coaches how happy I was about being a part of the Raider family. I grew up watching them and I even have cousins with the Raiders’ tattooed on them and they were going to name their kid ‘Raider,’ all that crazy stuff.
“But I definitely been watching them over the years. You never know how life is going to turn out, I’m actually a part of the Raider organization now.”