Although the Carolina Panthers stated that extending Brian Burns would be their top priority after the draft, nothing has been sorted out as yet.
It's been months since the 2023 NFL Draft came to a conclusion and the Carolina Panthers got their franchise quarterback of the future in Bryce Young. Something that represented the icing on top of an offseason cake that's hopefully the recipe for better fortunes under Frank Reich.
General manager Scott Fitterer went on record as saying that once Carolina's draft commitments had finally come to an end, the focus would immediately switch to working out a contract extension with Brian Burns. The explosive edge rusher is heading into the final year of his rookie deal and is the Panthers' biggest salary-cap hit in 2023 at just over $16 million - something that could be chump change compared to the cash he'll command on his new contract.
Burns is an indispensable member of Carolina's defense and an integral part of the team's long-term plans. Resisting a whopping trade offer from the Los Angeles Rams before the 2022 deadline further highlighted Fitterer's desire to build around this foundational piece, even if it probably added extra dollars to the Florida State product's demands all things considered.
Carolina Panthers urged to extend Brian Burns
After securing his second straight Pro Bowl last season and the fact he's just turned 25 years old, keeping Burns around is an absolute no-brainer. Something that was echoed by Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus, who wondered just what was taking the Panthers so long regarding a new deal for the 2019 first-round selection.
"[Brian] Burns’ 174 quarterback pressures over the past three seasons rank fourth among edge defenders, with his 13.1% pressure rate a top-25 mark despite there not being a lot of consistent pass-rush help across the roster otherwise. With reports the Panthers turned down multiple first-round picks from the Los Angeles Rams for Burns at the 2022 trade deadline, they frankly should have already extended Burns by now, and there’s no reason they should let any other edge rusher get paid first and potentially boost the position market further."- Brian Spielberger, Pro Football Focus
Contract negotiations are not as easy as just writing the first draft on paper and everything getting signed. They are far more complex and certainly when it comes to Burns, who's looking to be paid like one of the elite NFL pass-rushers.
This could end up being north of $20 million per year when it's all said and done. That seems to be the going rate these days, which could potentially increase further given Nick Bosa's upcoming deal with the San Francisco 49ers will reset the market.
Burns hasn't done enough to warrant Bosa-type money - not yet, anyway. But this has the scope to be one of the biggest-ever contracts in franchise history when the details finally emerge.
Any complications behind the scenes will be minimal, one suspects. There is mutual interest from both sides to get something done before Week 1 at the Atlanta Falcons, with the possibility of something becoming official before Burns takes the field at training camp.
While it would be nice if these things were more straightforward, there's no need to panic. Carolina has the cap space and Burns is a team-first guy - which are two critical components behind any smooth-sailing negotiations.
Fans will be hoping for a resolution sooner rather than later. Until told otherwise, this is the expectation.