Mauga inks 3-year deal with Chiefs |

Mauga inks 3-year deal with Chiefs

Thomas Ranson

Josh Mauga was aware of the challenges of the NFL, especially after being released from the Jets after back-to-back years of unfortunate injuries.

After spending the offseason last year getting back to 100 percent and ready to compete on football’s biggest stage, he found a new home in Kansas City loaded with defensive talent. But one by one, the team lost star players to injury, which led to the emergence of Mauga starting all 16 games for the AFC West squad.

“The season was truly a blessing for me,” Mauga said last month. “I got the opportunity to do what I love to do and was able to stay healthy and play every game.”

Kansas City rewarded its leading tackler from 2014 with a new three-year, $8.25 million deal last week. $2.25 million is guaranteed with salaries of $750,000, $1.5 million and $2.55 million. Roster bonuses include $200,000, $400,000 and $400,000 for his three years, according to multiple reports.

Mauga came to Kansas City with high hopes, mainly stemming from his connection with defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and linebackers coach Mark DeLeone, who coached Mauga in New York. It also didn’t hurt having ex-Nevada coach Chris Ault in the organization as a consultant.

“He has knowledge of the system,” Sutton told the team website. “He has played both inside positions. He has played both sub positions. At New York, he actually played games as an outside linebacker.”

Mauga’s role seemed to be similar with the Chiefs: special teams and a backup linebacker on defense.

But what took Mauga down in New York helped his rise with the Chiefs.

Linebackers Joe Mays and Derrick Johnson both went down with injuries in the beginning of the season, giving way to Mauga becoming a starter one of the primary signal callers on defense. Mays was released last week, giving the Chiefs linebackers Derrick Johnson, James-Michael Johnson, JoJo Dickson and now Mauga under contract for 2015.

“Mauga, he knows the system,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid told the media during the season. “He was a starter in the nickel package for the Jets, and he’s a good football player. That’s why we brought him in, to give him that opportunity to play, at that time backup, and now he’s asked to start.”

Mauga didn’t disappoint, either.

He led the team in tackles with 103 and made two homecoming trips to the Bay Area when the Chiefs lost to San Francisco in October and then Oakland in November. With the Jets, Mauga amassed only 44 combined tackles, a total that he accomplished by Week 7 of his first season with Kansas City.