Brian Wilson has left Colchester United after rejecting a new contract offer with the club.
The 30-year-old defender, whose current deal is due to expire this summer, turned down the opportunity to stay at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
U's boss Joe Dunne wanted to keep his captain at Colchester for next season.
But he admitted he was not able to match what other clubs could offer Wilson financially.
Dunne said: “I tried to keep Brian.
“I understand it was a difficult situation in a financial market where there will be clubs able to pay more than we do.
“When that situation arises you have a decision to make when you have a young family and you’re from a different part of the country.
“I fully respect Brian and what he did for the club.
“He was my captain and we did try to keep him."
Wilson was signed by John Ward for Colchester in 2010, following his exit from Bristol City.
He made 163 league and cup appearances for the U's, scoring three times.
Colchester have also announced the departure of Jordan Sanderson and Shaun Phillips from the club.
Sanderson made two substitute appearances for the U's first team, while young keeper Phillips leaves having not played a senior game.
For all of the latest Colchester United news, see Tuesday's Daily Gazette.