Are the Carolina Panthers playing a dangerous game with Brian Burns?

Could things get complicated between the Carolina Panthers and Brian Burns?
Brian Burns
Brian Burns / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Are the Carolina Panthers playing a dangerous game with stud pass-rusher Brian Burns with no new contract agreed upon as yet?

Brian Burns' importance to the Carolina Panthers and their chances of moving forward under Frank Reich's exciting new regime cannot be overstated. The defensive end is flourishing into one of the league's most explosive pass-rushers and should be highly motivated to continue his emergence heading into the final year of his deal.

This is something the Panthers could rectify before the season begins. Burns is an indispensable member of their plans and after turning down a whopping trade offer from the Los Angeles Rams before the 2022 trade deadline, made intentions clear regarding his future.

While some high-profile names around the league are currently holding out until they get paid, Burns opted for a different approach. The former first-round selection showed up to camp, was active aside from missing preseason games, and enhanced his leadership credentials within the locker room for good measure.

Burns' professionalism recently drew praise from Reich, even if his representatives and the Panthers aren't close to finalizing negotiations regarding his new contract based on Jeremy Fowler of ESPN's comments via USA Today Sports. The senior insider also revealed that tensions could start to run high the longer this drags on.

"They’ve been talkin’ for months. They are not at all close on a deal. He’s gonna play games. But, yeah, frustration could boil over a little bit here eventually. This is an elite player."

Jeremy Fowler via USA Today Sports

The Panthers are in no position to be playing a dangerous game with one of their elite players. Individuals in this category are few and far between in Carolina, so risking Burns' unhappiness in the hope it can save a few bucks is a big gamble in the grand scheme of things.

Of course, the Panthers might also be waiting to see the details of Nick Bosa's upcoming extension with the San Francisco 49ers. This is widely expected to reset the market and could earn the NFL Defensive Player of the Year around $30 million per season given his dominance since entering the league.

Burns isn't going to get that. However, the Bosa details should be a good measuring stick and might even result in the Florida State product looking at around $25 million annually.

This is a distraction Burns could do without, in all honesty. He's more than proven his worth to the franchise and general manager Scott Fitterer gave up any leverage he may have had by turning down a king's ransom for the player last year.

Hopefully, this is nothing more than the Panthers waiting on the Bosa deal before committing to their own financial payout. As for Burns, he's leaving it in the hands of a higher power and remains highly committed to the cause based on his comments via David Newton of ESPN.

"No fault to anybody who is not participating. But we’ve got something special, and I’m a big part of it, so I can’t miss no time. I’ve just got to be here. Of course it’s been on my mind, This is personal, but I’ve been working on my relationship with God. I left it in his hands. I just did everything I could in my power to be on this field with my teammates. I feel if you live the right way, good things will happen to you."

Brian Burns via ESPN

Carolina needs Burns more than ever this season. Although things are relatively calm between the player and the organization currently, that might not be the case for much longer if those in power leave their most dynamic weapon in limbo - something that would lead to the franchise tag and more complications next spring.

How will this long, drawn-out saga conclude? Only time will tell on that front, but anything other than Burns spending his prime years with the Panthers would be malpractice.