The Browns tried to renegotiate Kirksey's contract but released him after the sides couldn't come to an agreement, a source told ESPN. He was due to make $7.75 million in base salary this season, and $8.25 million in 2021. Releasing him will save the Browns roughly $6.58 million in cap savings this offseason.
Kirksey wrote in a tweet that he would be "forever grateful" for his time with the Browns.
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
Kirksey tore his pectoral muscle in Week 2 last year against the New York Jets and was placed on injured reserve for the rest of the season. Rookie Mack Wilson started for Kirksey in Cleveland's final 14 games.
The Browns selected Kirksey in the third round of the 2014 draft out of Iowa.
He was a five-year starter for Cleveland going into last season, compiling 484 career tackles, 11.5 sacks and 2 interceptions in six seasons.
"Christian Kirksey has been a vital member of our organization for the last six seasons because of his contributions on and off the field," Browns general manager Andrew Berry said in a statement. "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."