4 Carolina Panthers offseason decisions in 2023 that already look like a disaster

It's not been the greatest start to 2023 for the Carolina Panthers.

Miles Sanders
Miles Sanders / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers didn't pay Brian Burns

It wasn't just incomings and outgoings under scrutiny where the Carolina Panthers are concerned. Their inability to extend stud edge rusher Brian Burns is also coming in for severe criticism and caused an unnecessary distraction heading into their Week 1 opener at the Atlanta Falcons.

Burns is the team's best player. He's an explosive pass-rushing force with two straight Pro Bowls under his belt, which is matched by evolving leadership within the locker room to further enhance the former Florida State star's influence.

General manager Scott Fitterer and others in positions of power lost their negotiating leverage when they turned down a whopping trade offer from the Los Angeles Rams for Burns. Rejecting two first-round picks and a second-rounder for a non-quarterback is unheard of around the league and represents an indictment of how valued he is by the Panthers.

And yet, no agreement was reached despite lengthy negotiations. Even when those who sat out such as Nick Bosa and Chris Jones got paid, the ultra-professionalism Burns displayed throughout the summer wasn't rewarded.

Fans had signs demanding the Panthers pay Burns what he deserves on Monday night. The player doesn't want to negotiate during the season to focus on football, so this could end up costing Carolina substantially more than if they'd just done the right thing this offseason.

If Burns secures some career highs once again, he could command around $35 million per year looking at the market as it stands. The Panthers will use the franchise tag if all else fails, but this is a precarious situation that others looking to get paid such as Derrick Brown will also be watching closely.