Cleveland Browns are saying goodbye to another veteran. The team announced on Tuesday that they have released linebacker Christian Kirksey.
Kirksey, who was one of the Browns’ longest-tenured players remaining on the team this year, is leaving the franchise after six seasons. According to ESPN’s Jake Trotter, Cleveland was interested in keeping the 27-year-old on their roster but on a restructured deal. After two sides couldn’t agree on new terms, the breakup emerged as the logical solution.
Browns’ decision to cut Kirksey shouldn’t come as a surprise. Since his four-year, $38 million contract extension kicked in prior to the 2018 NFL season, he only played eight games due to various injuries. He was set to earn $7.75 million in 2020 and $8.25 million in 2021.
“Christian Kirksey has been a vital member of our organization for the last six seasons because of his contributions on and off the field,” said new Browns’ general manager Andrew Berry. “He has been a strong leader both in our locker room and in the Cleveland community. These are difficult decisions and, in Christian’s case, more challenging because of how well he has represented our team. We thank him for his dedication and wish him nothing but the best in the next phase of his career.”
Christian Kirksey entered the league in 2014 when Browns took him with a third-round pick in that year’s draft. Since then, he played 73 games (54 starts) and managed to contribute with 48 tackles and 11.5 sacks. He also had two interceptions and 16 pass deflections.
While his time in Cleveland has come to an end, Kirksey shouldn’t have a tough time finding a new job in NFL. According to Dan Graziano of ESPN, he already has three visits scheduled with several more likely to come if he doesn’t get signed right away.