By Tim Graham
Buffalo Bills defensive end Chris Kelsay has informed the club he will retire after 10 seasons.
Kelsay, a second-round draft choice in 2003, was a three-time captain who recorded 32.5 sacks, ninth-most in franchise history, but struggled to crack the starting lineup last year.
"I want to thank Mr. Wilson for the opportunity he gave me 10 years ago to be a Buffalo Bill," Kelsay said in comments distributed by the team. "One of my goals was to finish my career with the team that drafted me and that came to fruition. I feel very blessed to say that."
His departure will help the Bills in terms of managing their roster, saving them $5.175 million against the salary cap. Kelsay had the third-highest cap figure on the team behind defensive end Mario Williams and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Kelsay's retirement further refreshes Bills' defensive leadership core. The Bills recently released linebacker Nick Barnett, cornerback Terrence McGee and safety George Wilson.
Kelsay's playing time was limited last year because of the acquisitions of Williams and Mark Anderson and a neck injury that landed him on injured reserve Dec. 5.
Kelsay played nine games and started four. He recorded only 12 solo tackles, but had two sacks, four tackles for losses and one tackle for a safety.
His best season was 2005, when he notched career-highs with 88 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
"Chris has been the consummate professional throughout his career, and we will miss him," Bills General Manager Buddy Nix said. "He always gave 100 percent regardless of the situation and regardless of the score. He did everything with class and was an excellent team leader.
"Everyone in our organization from the players to the coaches to the front office personnel have the utmost respect for Chris. I know he will be successful in whatever he chooses to do next and I speak for everyone at One Bills Drive when I say that we wish him and his family nothing but the best."
Kelsay served as a defensive captain for the Bills in 2007, 2008 and 2010.
"The Buffalo Bills' fans are the best in the NFL," Kelsay said. "Having played in every NFL stadium over my 10 years, there are no other fans like the ones we play in front of at The Ralph. It's inspiring. It's emotional, and it's exciting every moment you step on the field.
"Your teammates are a big reason why you do this. Being around long enough you establish a lot of lifelong relationships, not just in the locker room but around the building. That’s something I’ll carry with me and cherish for the rest of my life."
taggedBuddy Nix | Chris Kelsay | George Wilson | Mario Williams | Mark Anderson | Terrence McGee