Analyzing the Cleveland Browns depth chart at linebacker
Looking for a bounce-back: Christian Kirksey
In the same 2017 season that saw Joe Schobert lead the league in tackles, Christian Kirksey was right behind him in the leaderboards. He also finished in the top-five as he was credited with 138 tackles. This came one season after he went for 143 tackles for the Browns.
A third-round pick out of Iowa in 2014, Kirksey’s breakout campaign in 2016 was enough to land him a four-year, $38 million contract extension ahead of the 2017 season. The question is whether or not he will see the end of that deal.
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Kirksey, who along with guard Joel Bitonio is now the longest-tenured player in Cleveland, missed nine games in 2018 as he dealt with a hamstring injury. He was slowed by that injury and now looks to prove he can rebound this year and return to the form he had the two prior campaigns.
While Kirksey is a team leader, the fact is the defense wasn’t great at linebacker this past season and he struggled at times — especially when it came to coverage. He’s going to need a big season should he want to finish out the deal he earned just a couple short seasons ago.
Being signed by the old regime doesn’t exactly bode well for him, nor does the fact that John Dorsey focused so much of their resources to the position in the offseason. Still, the ball is in his court as he can prove his value on the field, making it worth their investment to keep him around.