CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns have released veteran linebacker Christian Kirksey after six seasons in Cleveland.
A former third-round pick out of Iowa, Kirksey was one of the team’s longest-tenured players. Throughout his career with the Browns, he appeared in 73 games with 54 starts, serving as a team captain from 2017-19.
The Browns tried renegotiating Kirksey's contract, but could not come to an agreement, according to ESPN's Jake Trotter.
Per league source, Browns tried to renegotiate Kirksey’s contract to keep him, but couldn’t come to an agreement. Kirksey very popular in the locker room, but had missed the better part of the last two seasons with injury.— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) March 10, 2020
In a tweet, Kirksey thanked the city of Cleveland and his teammates.
FOREVER GRATEFUL! Thank you Cleveland for the amazing years! Thank you to the entire organization, my teammates, the Haslems for giving me an opportunity of a lifetime and most of all thank you to the city of Cleveland for accepting me as their own! Forever Love, Kirkoland Out! pic.twitter.com/vjcA4nMSZL— Christian Kirksey (@Kirko58) March 10, 2020
On and off the field, Kirksey was a source of energy and enthusiasm. During his first four seasons with the team, he never missed a game. In 2018, he was hampered by a hamstring injury that limited him to seven games. A chest injury followed in 2019 that ended his season after Week 2.
"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 Browns Executive Vice President of Football Operations and 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."
During his six seasons, Kirksey amassed 484 tackles, 11.5 sacks, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
Outside the locker room, Kirksey was active in the Cleveland community. He participated in numerous school visits, youth football camps, hospital visits and supporting the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.