Christian Kirksey

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.”

Bills LB Christian Kirksey To Retire

Just before the season, Christian Kirksey ventured to Buffalo on a practice squad agreement. The veteran linebacker prioritized signing with a contender, upon not making the Texans’ 53-man roster. But he does not plan to stay on with the Bills.

Instead, the 10th-year vet has informed the team he plans to retire,’s Mike Garafolo reports. Kirksey, 31, spent time with the Browns, Packers and Texans before coming to Buffalo. Prior to this season, the former third-round pick had been a regular starter in each of his previous nine seasons. The Bills have since announced Kirksey’s retirement plan.

To fill Kirksey’s spot on the practice squad, Garafolo adds the Bills are planning to bring back A.J. Klein. The off-and-on Bills regular was with the team during training camp. Klein re-signed with the Bills in April but was among the vested veterans not to make the team’s 53-man roster in August. The 11th-year veteran has remained in free agency since that cut.

Chosen by the Browns during what became an infamous draft for the team, Kirksey ended up a long-term starter for the downtrodden franchise. After selecting first-round busts Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel, the Browns did very well on Day 2 of the 2014 draft. They added Joel Bitonio in Round 2 and Kirksey in Round 3, taking the Iowa linebacker at No. 71 overall. Bitonio has become one of the Browns’ best players since the 1999 reboot, while Kirksey became a six-year starter for the team.

Kirksey’s post-Cleveland tenure provided a bounce-back effort after injuries sidetracked him as the 2010s wound down. After the Browns released him in 2020, Kirksey wound up with the Packers and started for a team that reached the NFC championship game. The Packers also released Kirksey, however, leading him to the Texans as one of the many veterans to stop through Houston on short-term accords during Nick Caserio‘s GM tenure. Kirksey spent the past two years in Houston, starting 29 games with the rebuilding team. After signing an extension to stay with the Texans in 2022, he started all 17 games and posted a 124-tackle, three-sack, two-interception season.

Excepting his 2020 Green Bay cameo, Kirksey did his best work for struggling teams. The off-ball ‘backer notched a career-high 148 tackles (11 for loss) during the Browns’ 1-15 season in 2016, earning a four-year, $38MM extension during the 2017 offseason. Cleveland then completed the NFL’s second 0-16 season, doing so despite rostering the likes of Bitonio, Kirksey, Joe Thomas and well-paid ILB Jamie Collins. The Browns cut bait on Kirksey’s deal with two years remaining, and he never came especially close to securing that kind of cash again. Still, Kirksey will leave the game having made more than $37MM.

Offering intermittent sack production despite his place on teams’ defensive second levels, Kirksey finishes his career with 16.5 sacks and 45 tackles for loss. He produced three 100-plus-tackle seasons.

Texans To Retain LB Cory Littleton, RB Mike Boone

AUGUST 30: While Kirksey has a deal lined up to join the Bills’ taxi squad, the same is not true of Littleton. The latter is remaining in Houston on the team’s 53-man roster, Wilson reports. Littleton has re-signed with the same terms he originally agreed to; that will allow him to max out his 2023 earnings at $2.7MM.

The same release-and-re-sign move has been employed with running back Mike Boone, Wilson adds. Boone will carry on under the terms of the two-year, $3.1MM pact he signed this offseason.

AUGUST 29: Multiple veteran linebackers are receiving their walking papers from the Texans this week. Following the Christian Kirksey cut, the Texans are releasing Cory Littleton, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets.

Littleton joined Denzel Perryman in signing with the team in March. Even without Kirksey, the Texans’ roster includes a number of notable linebackers. Christian Harris, a 2022 third-round pick, joins veterans Blake Cashman and Neville Hewitt. The latter, a special-teamer, re-signed this offseason. The team also drafted Alabama’s Henry To’oTo’o in the fifth round.

Big on midlevel veteran additions and short-term contracts under GM Nick Caserio, Houston added Littleton on a one-year, $2.2MM deal. The former Rams, Raiders and Panthers defender received $600K guaranteed, representing the dead money set to come from this release. The Texans are retooling on defense once again, returning to a 4-3 scheme under HC DeMeco Ryans. This has led to some offseason adjustments.

Perryman and Cashman are listed as starters in Houston, Wilson adds. Littleton, 29, has been unable to stick around with a team since his productive Rams tenure ended. Still in their all-in mode when Littleton’s free agency year transpired, the Rams let the starting linebacker walk in 2019. While the Raiders gave Littleton a nice contract (three years, $35.25MM), they restructured it a few times and shed it from their payroll — via a post-June 1 cut — last year. Littleton caught on with the Panthers but only started seven of the 15 games he played last season.

LB Christian Kirksey To Join Bills’ P-Squad

Joining Desmond King as an experienced defender cut by the Texans this week, Christian Kirksey will also resurface in the AFC. After King agreed to terms with the Steelers, Kirksey will head to Buffalo.

The Bills are adding the veteran linebacker to their practice squad, Ian Rapoport of tweets. Buffalo will be Kirksey’s fourth team. With Tremaine Edmunds departing for a lucrative Bears deal in free agency, Kirksey’s experience could be important for the Bills. But they do have several young linebackers in place alongside Matt Milano.

Buffalo kept eight off-ball linebackers on its active roster, a rather high number. Third-round picks Dorian Williams (2023) and Terrel Bernard (2022) and 2022 seventh-rounder Baylon Specter join fifth-year defender Tyrel Dodson, Travin Howard and veterans A.J. Klein and Tyler Matakevich.

Signing with the Texans during Nick Caserio’s first year running the team, Kirksey started 29 games with the rebuilding squad. His presence was a bit out of place on a rebuilding team, but Caserio has preferred to stock the Texans with midlevel veterans on short-term deals during his early years as GM. But Houston added a few linebackers this offseason, including Denzel Perryman, leading the former Browns third-rounder off the roster.

Kirksey, who will turn 31 on Friday, has 94 starts on his resume. The Browns gave him an eight-figure-per-year extension back in 2017 but cut bait in 2020, leading to a Packers one-off. Kirksey profiles as an insurance option for a Bills team set to rely on inexperienced linebackers alongside Milano.

Texans Set 53-Man Roster

The Texans are in the midst of a rebuild, but that doesn’t make their roster decisions any easier. The organization ultimately settled on 53 players today:




Placed on reserve/PUP:

Three veteran tight ends were let go in Mason Schreck, Eric Tomlinson, and Nick Vannett. Vannett has the most epxerience of the bunch, having seen time in 86 career games. He spent the 2022 seasons with the Giants and Saints, hauling in six catches. Tomlinson has appeared in 85 career games, including 34 over the past two seasons. He started 12 of his 17 appearances for Denver in 2022, serving mostly as an extra blocker.

Adam Humphries was an 800-yard receiver with the Buccaneers in 2018, but he’s compiled only 985 yards in three years since. He didn’t get into a game during the 2022 season, but he did haul in 41 catches for Washington in 2021.

Texans To Release LB Christian Kirksey, CB Desmond King, TE Nick Vannett

7:50pm: Nick Vannett joined King and Kirksey in not making the Texans’ 53-man roster, per KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson. The Texans signed the veteran in early August. Teams frequently release veterans on the bubble to protect younger players from reaching the waiver wire. Vested vets’ contracts becoming guaranteed just before Week 1 also factors into cuts at this time of the year, but as of now, Houston will be without this experienced trio.

3:45pm: Wilson reports that another notable veteran has received his walking papers from Houston in the form of cornerback Desmond King. The 28-year-old, like Kirksey, spent the past two years with the Texans. King started 25 games with the team, collecting five interceptions and 14 pass deflections, making him a name to watch with respect to potential interest from other teams in need of secondary depth. His release will yield $3MM in cap savings.

2:52pm: Another veteran has found themselves on the outside of roster-building decisions. The Texans are releasing linebacker Christian Kirksey, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network.

The soon-to-be 31-year-old had been in Houston over the past two years. Kirksey signed a one-year deal to join the Texans in 2021, then a two-year pact the following offseason. He was due to carry a cap hit of $6.25MM this year, but by parting ways with him the Texans will save all but $1MM of that amount.

Kirksey proved himself to be a capable starter during his time with the Browns and Packers before heading to Houston. He played 789 snaps in 2021, then a career-high 1,141 last season while collecting over 100 tackles for the third time in his NFL tenure. The former third-rounder operated as one of the team’s captains as one of the few veterans entrenched within an otherwise young roster. It will be interesting to see how willing the Texans are to bring him back at a reduced rate, or if they will proceed with their other LB options.

Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 notes that free agent addition Denzel Perryman eclipsed Kirksey (who had been dealing with a hamstring injury for much of the offseason) on the depth chart, making today’s move an easier one to go through with given its financial benefits. Houston also has Cory Littleton in place as a veteran, and the team has drafted an Alabama ‘backer (Christian Harris and Henry To’oTo’o) in each of the past two years. That new corps at the second level will aim to deliver an improvement on defense this season under new head coach DeMeco Ryans.

In addition to Kirksey, offensive lineman Rashaad Coward is among the Texans’ Monday cuts, Wilson adds. Coward has logged 18 starts across 38 regular season games with the Bears, Steelers and Cardinals. He signed in Houston earlier this month amidst the team’s injury concerns up front, especially at right tackle. The Texans swung a deal with Arizona for Josh Jones last week, though. Coward will now head to another new home via waivers if claimed, or he can remain with Houston if the team elects to place him on the practice squad.

Contract Details: Williams, Kirksey, Conley, Landry

Rounding up a few contract details from recent deals:

  • Mike Williams, WR (Chargers): Three-year, $60MM. The contract has $40MM guaranteed, including a $21MM signing bonus, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. The third year of the contract, worth $17MM in not guaranteed for the 2024 season, when Williams will be due a $3MM roster bonus on the third day of the league year.
  • Christian Kirksey, LB (Texans): Two-year, $10MM. The contract has a base value of $8MM with a $2MM signing bonus being part of the contract’s $4MM guaranteed amount, according to Wilson. Kirksey will earn approximately $58,823 per game as an active bonus for up to $1MM per year. The contract also holds annual incentives of $250,000 for each year of the contract.
  • Chris Conley, WR (Texans): One-year, $2MM. The contract has a base salary of $1.5MM, $500,000 of which is guaranteed, along with a $250,000 signing bonus, according to Wilson. Conley’s contract also has a per game active bonus clause that can earn him up to $250,000 for the year as well as a $500,000 incentive that can be triggered off his 2022 catch and playing time totals.
  • Harold Landry, OLB (Titans): Five-year, $87.5MM. The contract has a guaranteed amount of $52.5MM, composed of a $19MM signing bonus and the contract’s first three years of salary: $1.25MM for 2022, $15MM for 2023, and $17.25MM for 2024, according to Wilson. The 2024 amount is guaranteed for injury at signing, meaning that it won’t become guaranteed until the 5th day of the 2023 league year.

Texans Re-Sign Christian Kirksey

The Texans have agreed to a brand new deal with linebacker Christian Kirksey (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network). Financial terms are not yet known, but it’ll be a two-year pact to keep him under contract through the 2023 season. 

[RELATED: Steelers Don’t Want Watson]

Kirksey, 30 in August, joined the Texans on a low-cost one-year deal last year. He went on to suit up for 13 games with 12 starts, emerging as one of the more productive defenders in Houston. In total, Kirksey finished 2021 with 93 stops, eight passes defensed, two quarterback hits, and a pair of fumble recoveries. The Texans were said to be prioritizing him and that was indeed the case — his deal is done before the start of free agency next week.

Kirksey came into the league as a 2014 third-round pick of the Browns. He went on to play a key role on some otherwise bad Browns teams, earning a fat extension worth upwards of $10MM/year. Unfortunately, injuries derailed him in 2018 and 2019, leading to his release. His eleven-game 2020 with the Packers — which featured 77 tackles and two sacks — was an improvement, but not in line with his early work. Now, Kirksey seems to have found a home in Houston.

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/25-12/26/21

We’ve compiled a list of players who were placed on or activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Christmas and today. In some instances, players activated from the list remain on IR:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Placed on practice squad/COVID-19 list: WR Steven Sims

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/4/21

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans