Kirksey, 27, was due to make $8.75 million in 2020 and $9.25 million in 2021.
“FOREVER GRATEFUL! Thank you Cleveland for the amazing years!” Kirksey tweeted on Tuesday morning. “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!”
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 Tuesday morning, the Browns announced Kirksey’s release on their website.
“Christian Kirksey has been a vital member of our organization for the last six seasons because of his contributions on and off the field,” general manager Andrew Berry said in the release. “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.”
We’ve released veteran LB Christian Kirksey
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) March 10, 2020
Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot reported the Browns failed to restructure Kirksey’s contract.
Kirksey appeared in 73 games and made 54 starts.
He was also the team’s captain from 2017-2019.
In Kirksey’s first four seasons, he didn’t miss a game.
A hamstring injury limited him to seven games in 2018, and a torn pectoral muscle in 2019 ended his season after Week 2.
Kirksey compiled 484 tackles, 11.5 sacks, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in his Browns’ career.
From 2016-2017, Kirksey’s 281 tackles were the second-most of any NFL player.
The Browns drafted Kirksey out of Iowa in the third round with the 71st overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Kirksey was the Browns’ 2016 PFWA Dino Lucarelli Good Guy award winner and the team’s 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Kirksey created the Kirkoland Foundation with the purpose to aid and encourage individuals to be them, be proud, be their own rock star.
He has hosted numerous events to benefit kids through his foundation, including youth football camps.
Kirksey also provided opportunities for local kids in need, including bowling events, fashion shows, bringing kids to Cedar Point or sporting events.
The Browns will need to add linebacker depth in the offseason because the team is not expected to retain Joe Schobert.
Tae Davis, Jermaine Grace, Willie Harvey, Montrel Meander, Sione Takitaki and Mack Wilson are also listed as linebackers on the team’s website.
NFL free agency officially begins at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, March 18.
The team holds the No. 10 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft.