HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 20: Christian Kirksey #58 of the Houston Texans walks off of the field against the Washington Commanders at NRG Stadium on November 20, 2022 in Houston, Texas.
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Bills Linebacker Unexpectedly Retires at 31 Years Old

Buffalo Bills veteran linebacker Christian Kirksey has decided to hang up his cleats two weeks into the 2023 NFL season.

Buffalo Bills linebacker Christian Kirksey has informed the team that he plans to retire after signing joining the practice squad prior to the season kicking off.

Kirksey, 31, appeared in 114 games after being chosen by the Cleveland Browns in the third-round of the 2014 NFL Draft, where he spent the first six seasons of his career.

NFL Network's Mike Garafolo tweeted the news of Kirksey's retirement plans on Thursday, September 21.

Totaling 726 career tackles with 14.5 sacks, six interceptions, and 30 pass breakups, Kirksey was a versatile playmaker. He also spent one season with the Green Bay Packers and two years as a member of the Houston Texans, prior to being released following training camp this summer.

The hope, for Kirksey, was that he would ultimately be added to the 53-man roster. Instead, the former University of Iowa standout has decided to step away from the game.

Just last season, Kirksey produced 124 total tackles with 3.0 sacks and seven tackles for loss, underscoring his ability to still be a productive linebacker, even at the age of 30. Prior to being released by the Texans this summer, Kirksey was a mainstay as a starting linebacker throughout the course of his career.

According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the Bills are re-signing fan-favorite A.J. Klein to fill Kirksey's spot on the practice squad, which opens the door to him ultimately joining the 53-man roster and contributing on Sundays.

Klein, 32, returns to Buffalo after amassing 465 total tackles with 15.5 sacks through the first 10 seasons of his career, including splitting time between the Bills, Baltimore Ravens, and Chicago Bears during the 2022 campaign. Klein returns to the Bills after being unable to make the 53-man roster during the preseason.

Last season, Klein notched 16 tackles, while making two starts.

Kirksey becomes the second Bills player to retire this season, following offensive lineman Brandon Shell, who called it a career during training camp, back in August.

The Bills take on the Washington Commanders on Sunday afternoon.

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