Packers: 3 players they can’t afford to keep in 2021

Green Bay Packers, Preston Smith (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Preston Smith (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Green Bay Packers, Christian Kirksey
Green Bay Packers, Christian Kirksey – Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Christian Kirksey

Christian Kirksey was a signing a lot of Packers fans were excited but cautious about. After watching Blake Martinez get torched in coverage all year, the Packers were finally able to land a linebacker who had speed and the ability to cover.

The only downside was his injury history. In the previous two seasons, Kirksey played in just nine games. Seven in 2018 and two last year. Unfortunately, that has been the case in Green Bay. He has played in just four of the Packers’ nine games so far this season.

Luckily in his absence, we’ve been able to see undrafted rookie Krys Barnes play. When Kamal Martin made it back from his preseason injury, the pair looked relatively good together. Sure, they have made some mistakes here and there, but overall, those two looked like they could be the future for the team at the position.

In the offseason, Kirksey signed a two-year, $13 million deal with Green Bay. Granted, it’s not a ton of money, but that was the point of the contract. There wasn’t a ton of risk in it for the Packers.

If Kirksey played well, he would have two good seasons with the Packers and probably earn another contract when this one was up. If he didn’t play well or showed that he can’t stay healthy, Green Bay would be able to move on with just a small hit to the cap with dead money in 2021.

Moving on from Kirksey after this season would save the Packers $6 million in cap space next season. With his injury issues and the emergence of Barnes and Martin, I think releasing Kirksey after this year makes sense for the Packers.

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