WR Rashard Higgins, LB Christian Kirksey To Retire As Browns

Both wideout Rashard Higgins and linebacker Christian Kirksey have officially decided to hang up their cleats, but they will do so as members of the team which drafted them. Both players will sign one-day contracts with the Browns, the team announced on Tuesday.

Higgins spent his first six years in Cleveland, serving as a complementary receiver along the way. His best campaign came in 2020, when he posted 37 catches for 599 yards and four touchdowns. His 16.2 yards per catch average demonstrated his ability as a vertical threat, but by 2022 signs pointed to a free agent departure.

Indeed, the former fifth-rounder signed with the Panthers on a one-year deal that offseason. Higgins, 29, appeared in only three games that year, however. He was out of the league for the past campaign, and instead of pursuing a comeback, he will end his NFL run with roughly $8.3MM in career earnings.

Kirksey signed with the Bills ahead of the 2023 season, aiming to join a contender. His time in Buffalo proved to be very short-lived, though, and in September he informed the team of his intention to retire. That move was not officially made during the campaign, as evidenced by today’s news, but the former third-rounder was not on the field with any team last season.

Over the course of six years with the Browns, Kirksey started 54 of 73 games. He eclipsed 100 tackles twice in that span (2016 and ’17), doing so again during his 2022 performance with the Texans. In both Cleveland and Houston, the Iowa product earned his team’s nomination for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

Kirksey remained a full-time starter during his single season with the Packers in 2020, as well as his two campaigns as a Texan. The 31-year-old spent much of his career on rebuilding teams, and he was released halfway through his most lucrative pact (a four-year, $38MM Browns extension signed in 2017). Still, he made an NFC championship game appearance with Green Bay and accumulated just over $39MM during his career.

“We are thrilled that Rashard and Christian wanted to come back and retire as Cleveland Browns,” a team statement reads. “Both players obviously made an impact on the field, but they each made a lasting impression in the Cleveland community as well. It’s a testament to who they are as individuals, and we are honored to have them retire as part of our Browns family.”

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