Carolina Panthers franchise tag Brian Burns: What comes next?

The inevitable decision has arrived...

Brian Burns
Brian Burns / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

After placing the franchise tag on Brian Burns as expected, what comes next between the Carolina Panthers and its star pass-rusher?

After the Carolina Panthers called off contract talks with Brian Burns during the NFL Scouting Combine, what came next seemed inevitable. Those in power waited until the last minute before finally placing the franchise tag on their best edge rusher. Something that's seemed like a foregone conclusion since last September all things considered.

Burns is seeking a deal the Panthers have been reluctant to allocate up to now. The former first-round pick remained professional last summer while others around the league sat out and got paid. This faith was not reciprocated by the previous front-office power structure. One could make a case for the player's extreme loyalty going against him.

Carolina Panthers get breathing space with Brian Burns tag

The two sides remain apart in their quest to get a long-term deal worked out. Placing the non-exclusive franchise tag on Burns enables him to speak with other teams and potentially receive an offer the Panthers can match. If not, then they'll be compensated accordingly.

This is the same approach adopted by the Baltimore Ravens with quarterback Lamar Jackson last season. Teams were reluctant to come forward in that case. Most are now regretting it after he put together a phenomenal campaign en route to his second NFL MVP honor.

It seems unlikely that a team would be willing to part ways with two first-round picks for Burns. However, a deal can be agreed between any interested party and the franchise in terms of compensation that doesn't meet the stipulated criteria. That would increase the chance of being tagged and traded if the Panthers went in this direction.

In an ideal world, Burns would get the long-term financial security he's looking for. His numbers were down last year, but there weren't many opportunities to genuinely rush the passer. He also became the focal point of opposing protection schemes, which made life difficult with no consistent pass-rushing presence opposite the Florida State product.

Placing the non-exclusive tag on Burns gives Carolina a better indication of the market and how his skill set is perceived around the league. They have some extra time to negotiate something long-term. There is a little extra breathing space if no offer arrives. If not, then the Panthers will likely move forward with their best pass-rusher on the franchise tag in 2024.

Had Burns held out during the offseason, this might be a different story. Something that is almost guaranteed to happen during this year's camp if there is no new deal agreed upon beforehand and he isn't suiting up elsewhere.

Of course, the incompetence of those who came before led to this point. It's not on Dan Morgan and Brandt Tilis, they're just trying to do what's best for the franchise moving forward and clean up a significant mess at the same time. In truth, this is the best move in the circumstances, even if it eats $24 million off their current salary cap.

According to Spotrac, the Panthers have just $13 million in available space following the transaction. With linebacker Frankie Luvu to extend and several problem position groups that require attention, the margin for error is increasingly slim without additional sacrifices elsewhere.

It's a precarious situation, but the Panthers have nobody to blame but themselves. Thankfully, those who made such poor choices and dished out bad contracts are no longer around.

We can all be thankful for that.