Raiders bolster ‘D’ through free agency 

click to enlarge Raiders signed free agent linebacker Kaluka Maiava to a $6 million, three-year contract. - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images File Photo
  • Raiders signed free agent linebacker Kaluka Maiava to a $6 million, three-year contract.

ALAMEDA — The Raiders began shoring up their depleted defense on Wednesday by signing free agent linebacker Kaluka Maiava to a $6 million, three-year contract, as well as defensive tackle Pat Sims and defensive end Jason Hunter.

A day after losing three of the team’s most productive defenders from last year when Oakland released defensive back Michael Huff and lost free agent linebacker Philip Wheeler to Miami and defensive lineman Desmond Bryant to Cleveland, the Raiders started the rebuilding process.

“We’re excited to add three veterans through free agency, helping to create depth and competition on defense,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “We’ll continue to add free agents as the opportunity surfaces.”

Oakland has only four returning defensive starters under contract in safety Tyvon Branch, linebacker Miles Burris and defensive linemen Lamarr Houston and Tommy Kelly. But Kelly could still be released as a salary cap casualty this offseason.

Oakland ranked 18th in total defense and 28th in scoring defense last year in coach Dennis Allen’s first season in charge but showed signs of improvement late in the year that led to the decision to bring back coordinator Jason Tarver for a second season.

The Raiders also re-signed defensive back Coye Francies to a one-year, $630,000 deal after letting him become a free agent when they didn’t tender him a contract.

Francies played mostly on special teams in his first season with the Raiders. Francies averaged 23.8 yards on his 20 kick returns and also played on coverage units for Oakland.

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