The Buffalo Bills started their search for a replacement for Lorenzo Alexander in earnest Friday.
Christian Kirksey, released this week by the Cleveland Browns, is visiting the Bills, a league source confirmed. His trip was first reported by Grant Gilchrest.
Kirksey, 27, is on a tour. He previously visited the Green Bay Packers and Las Vegas Raiders. He’s a 6-foot-2-inch, 235-pounder who started 54 games for the Browns over the past six years. He was limited to seven games in 2018 due to a hamstring injury, and he played just two games last season before going on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle.
Kirksey was a team leader who won the Browns' Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2018.
Former teammates lauded him following his release.
"Kirko: You will go down in history as one of the great Cleveland Browns of all time, not only for what you did on the field, but the lives that you impacted in the community, in the locker room and in and around the offices of the Cleveland Browns," former offensive lineman Joe Thomas tweeted.
You will go down in history as one of the great Cleveland Browns of all time, not only for what you did on the field, but the lives that you impacted in the community, in the locker room and in and around the offices of the Cleveland Browns... https://t.co/eC4DjB5bGU
— Joe Thomas (@joethomas73) March 11, 2020
He was released after not coming to an agreement on a salary reduction with the team. He was due to count $9.9 million against the salary cap in 2020.
Kirksey played the weak-side linebacker role (Matt Milano’s position) the first two games of last season and in Gregg Williams’ Browns defense in 2017. He was an inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme in 2016. But he’s heftier than Milano and could play either side of the field.
He ranked third in the NFL in tackles in 2016 with 148 and tied for fourth in 2017 with 138. He was a third-round draft pick out of Iowa in 2014.
He also has connections to Bills defensive backs Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, both of whom have posted on social media after his release. Hyde and Kirksey played at Iowa; he and Poyer were teammates with the Browns.