Packers To Sign LB Christian Kirksey

Christian Kirksey made his decision early Monday morning. After visiting three teams last week, the free agent linebacker will sign with the Packers, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

Kirksey agreed to a two-year, $16MM deal with Green Bay, per Garafolo. The six-year veteran will reunite with Mike Pettine, the Packers’ DC who drafted him when he was the Browns’ head coach back in 2014.

This marks a notable move for a Packers team that does not usually devote much funding to off-ball linebackers. The team is expected to let top tackler Blake Martinez hit the market and find his second contract elsewhere. Now, the team has an $8MM-AAV contract at this position. Kirksey also adds to a suddenly expensive linebacking corps, with Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith each earning north of $13MM annually.

It represents another deviation under GM Brian Gutekunst, who has shown a greater willingness to spend in free agency than predecessor Ted Thompson. However, this signing — since Kirksey was a street free agent — will not affect the Packers’ compensatory formula.

The 27-year-old linebacker visited the Raiders and Bills while also communicating with the Ravens. Despite coming off two injury-marred seasons, the recently released defender landed a contract that pays him nearly what his previous Browns deal did. Cleveland signed Kirksey to a $9.5MM-per-year extension and saw the former third-round pick total 286 tackles between the 2016-17 seasons. He will now have a chance to revive his career in a familiar system.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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