Packers Cut Christian Kirksey, Rick Wagner

The Packers turned to street free agents Christian Kirksey and Rick Wagner to plug lineup holes last March. A year later, both are out of the picture.

Both veterans received notice they are being released. The Packers announced the cuts Friday. They released Kirksey with a failed-physical designation, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).

Green Bay will create just more than $10MM in cap space by making these moves. Wagner is considering retirement, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com.

This is familiar territory for both. The Browns dropped Kirksey after six seasons in 2020; this move came around the same time the Lions cut Wagner after three seasons. The Packers scooped both up and turned to them as regular first-stringers. Wagner started nine games; Kirksey started 11.

The Packers recently created $8MM in cap space by restructuring David Bakhtiari‘s contract. They are now close to $20MM in savings over the past week, which should lead to speculation they are eyeing a certain Wisconsin native. J.J. Watt remains a free agent and has been connected to the Bills and Browns thus far. But the Packers make sense as a Watt landing spot, given the superstar defensive end’s ties to the area and Green Bay having qualified for the past two NFC championship games.

Pro Football Focus graded Wagner well last season, slotting him as the No. 23 overall tackle. While he struggled against Shaquil Barrett in the latter’s three-sack NFC title game, Wagner should draw interest — if, in fact, he chooses to play in 2021. Wagner has played eight NFL seasons, doing so after being a fifth-round Ravens draftee in 2013. With Wagner gone and Bakhtiari suffering an Achilles tear on New Year’s Eve, the Packers have a major need at tackle.

The Browns acquired Kirksey in the 2014 third round. He began his career as a high-end cog on bad Cleveland teams, but his early work prompted the Browns to give him a deal worth north of $10MM annually. However, Kirksey struggled with injuries in 2018 and ’19. His 11-game 2020 season, which featured 77 tackles and two sacks, continued the injury theme to the latter part of his career but also doubled as his most extensive work sample in years. Kirksey will turn 29 just ahead of the 2021 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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13 comments on “Packers Cut Christian Kirksey, Rick Wagner

  1. Simmons>Russ

    If they get JJ that would be huge. Packers would need to spend and first or second round pick on a WR

    • augold5

      Why do they need a WR? MVS was showing great improvement toward the end of the year and Lazard is a fine #3. What they need is OL and CB, possibly a RB depending on if they can resign Jones/Williams. Those are much more pressing needs than WR

      • jgus828

        Totally agree. I don’t understand why everyone says they need WR’s….they need lots and lots of defense and maybe another OL or two!

    • Simmons>Russ

      At RB they have Jones and just spent a second round pick on Dillon. That’s not a need, maybe if Jones leaves they want they could grab a vet in FA to help Dillon and share the role.

      As for OL, they have one of the best tackles in Bakhtiari, pro bowl Jenkins, and first team all pro Corey Linsley they need to resign. They have some young prospects developing too. I think they could improve it, if they want but their line was pretty good against the Buccs and against the Rams in the playoff (both without Bakhtiari) and last year did alright against the Seahawks and Niners in the playoffs.

      As for WR besides Adams, Lazard is a FA, MVS showed glimpses but Rodgers realistically only has 2/3 years left in the tank and I think if you were to add another solid number 2 WR option then you’d be a lot better for it.

    • twentyforty

      The Packers have historically developed WRs outside of the 1st round. Why mess with a market inefficiency they’ve benefitted from for years? Some of you fantasy football fans are clueless to the realities of the NFL. Stop listening to the woefully uninformed media.

      • Simmons>Russ

        Historically developed WRers……

        Let’s look at the WRers they have taken and developed.
        JMon Moore (4th round) – Cut after 15 months
        MVS (5th round) – 3 years only slight improvement. On average every year 30 receptions 600 yards (no development, but good production)
        St Brown (5th round) – this year 7 receptions in 12 games
        Yancey – (5th round) – cut after a year
        Dupree (7th round) – cut after 6 months
        Davis (5th round) – 4 years, 0 starts, 31 games 9 receptions goes to Raiders 1 year 4 starts 7 receptions
        DeVante Adams (2nd round pick) best weapon Rodgers has ever had
        Abbrederis (5th round) – 2 years 10 receptions
        Janis (7th round) – was a useful pick for 7th round but never did anything
        Johnson+Dorsey (7th round) – both didn’t last longer than a year
        Randall Cobb (second round pick) – Rodgers only other good WR the packers have drafted.

        That’s all the WRers drafted since 2009.
        None have been developed or really improved other than the two second round picks Adams and Cobb. MVS is the third best WR taken in over 10 years and he hasn’t really improved much from his rookie year.
        Packers need a solid number 2 WR and I can’t see them spending money on AJ Green or someone in FA that will make a difference so use a draft pick. You’ve got a young QB in Love, a young RB in Dillon take another quality young WR to pair with MVS for now and the future

    • Sportsfantatic

      Yaa lets trade a 3 time MVP QB who is owed just as much as Rodgers iff not more.. Plus a total diva who throws a fit bc he cant have his way.. Houston and even the GM came out with HC to say we want to keep him work with him.. Yet he complains like a baby refuses to dress and play iff not traded.. What happens iff he dont get his wayy in Greenbay???

  2. Sportsfantatic

    Top priority is to create more Cap space.. Than see iff they can get Watt under 8mil iff possible.. Than try one more time on jones maybe 4 yrs at 42mil with maybe 16Mil guarentee.. Iff he dont accept you could tag him.. Try again next year.. Option B tag and Trade Jones and extend Jamal Williams.. Jones worries me bc of the soft tissue injuries he gets but, he reminds me alot like Bell.. He can read Defenses well and Find the holes fast which is a huge talent at RB.. Lindsley is as good as gone no need for him.. They have Jenkins few young ones behind him.. In The Draft top priority is Defense 1st round like your best LB. Id look at WR to Devp they need a legit solid #2 behind adams and MVS.. Id look at drafting DL like DE top priority and CB.. Also, Draft a OL too..
    Ways to improve Cap Rework Rodgers contract give him an extra yr convert some to signing bonus make him a top 3 Highest paid QB! Maybe rework Adams and Alexander Contract convert some of their salary and give them some extra Yrs on their contract..

  3. ARKScout

    Next likely move is release of Preston Smith and possibly Dean Lowry. Aaron Jones is a memory, it would be foolish to resign him with the other more pressing needs on this team, when you have as much capitol invested in your quarterback and left tackle as the Packers do an eight figure per year RB is a luxury you can’t afford. Wide receiver is a need, MVS improved at the end of last year, but he’s still maddeningly inconsistent and Lazard is far too slow to be anything but a number 4. It’s time for this team to bring in some explosiveness at the WR position, MVS is a build up speed long strider. Can we please finally see how good Aaron Rodgers can be when he actually has talent around him that makes him better instead of relying on him to make mediocre receivers serviceable. Corey Davis would be a great addition and an affordable one as well. Curtis Samuel would be an intriguing option as well.

    • Sportsfantatic

      How much is Kenny Golladay worth from Detroit??.. They will extend either Jamal or Aaron Jones its going to happen regardless.. I think Jones is the better RB will cost more.. But, Williams is more durable alot cheaper plus he can get the job done also gives AJ Dillion more snaps.. The issue iss Aaron Jones is a recieving RB too he catches runs well.. They might rework Preston smith contract i think he a better piece than Watt manily bc of Watts health.. Unless Greenbay can get him under 8mil just dont see it…

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