4 Carolina Panthers fan favorites who might not be back in 2024

Could it be the end for these popular figures?

Sam Franklin
Sam Franklin / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
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Brian Burns - Carolina Panthers OLB

This one is complicated. It's also a situation the Carolina Panthers could have easily avoided.

Brian Burns seemed to be bracing himself for every eventuality when speaking to the media on Monday. He's out of contract. He'd be one of the top free agents to hit the market. However, the Panthers are unlikely to let him leave for nothing when push comes to shove.

After contract extension talks didn't go well during the summer despite Burns' professionalism, all signs point to the explosive edge rusher receiving the franchise tag. This buys Carolina some time, but players are becoming increasingly reluctant to perform without the long-term financial security attached.

Burns admitted the thought of getting hurt and jeopardizing his money down the road impacted his performance levels this season. The Panthers would be wise to make him a decent offer. If he turns it down, then the tag-and-trade scenario becomes more realistic.

The former Florida State star hasn't been short of interest before the last two trade deadlines. Scott Fitterer infamously turned down two first-round picks and a Day 2 selection from the Los Angeles Rams for Burns in 2022. Not extending the pass-rusher after that was organizational malpractice.

Fitterer is no longer around to complicate matters thankfully. This could mean some common ground can finally be reached between the Panthers and Burns once negotiations resume.