Retaining their own was one of the goals Browns owner Jimmy Haslam established when he spoke to the media at the end of last season.
Browns started achieving that goal when they re-signed linebacker Jamie Collins offensive guard Joel Bitonio earlier this offseason.
On Tuesday, they signed linebacker Christian Kirksey to a four year extension.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the deal is worth $38 million dollars with $20 million of it fully guaranteed.
Kirksey was entering his final year of his rookie contract and is slated to make close to $1.8 million. Once his extension kicks in next year, he’ll be averaging $9.5 million per season.
Drafted in the third round in 2014, Kirksey has been one of the solid defensive players on the Browns and hasn’t missed a game in three seasons. He was the second middle linebacker behind Karlos Dansby his first two seasons in Cleveland, totaling 134 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
In 2016 with Dansby’s departure, Kirksey stepped into the full-time starter at that position and had his breakout season.
He racked up 143 tackles and 2.5 sacks and was rated by Pro Football Focus as the 22nd linebacker in all of football. He had 63 defensive stops according to PFF, the most by any NFL linebacker last season.
Kirksey along with Collins who are 24 and 27 years old respectively will be the leaders of the defense going forward especially within the front seven. The young yet extremely talented defensive front has made a big shakeup over the last two seasons but there’s a lot of talent and depth there now.
- Myles Garrett
- Emmanuel Ogbah
- Carl Nassib
- Danny Shelton
- Larry Ogunjobi
- Caleb Brantley
- Jamie Collins
- Christian Kirksey
- Jamie Meder
- Desmond Bryant
- Xavier Cooper
- DeMario Davis
- Joe Schobert
- Nate Orchard
- Cam Johnson
And now that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is in Cleveland now, I think the defense is only going to get better. You have guys that can go attack on the pass rush but also guys like Kirksey who can drop back into coverage and do it effectively.
It’s nice to see the Browns have made their plan and are sticking to the plan, with time and patience from ownership I think the Browns will be back into contention very soon.