Commanders Pursued Brian Burns In 2023

Picking up draft capital in exchange for young edge rushers became one of the defining aspects of the 2023 Commanders’ season, which skidded off the rails following the trades of Montez Sweat and Chase Young. The team also looks to have been monitoring an edge player on another roster.

Washington joined a number of teams in contacting Carolina regarding Brian Burns‘ availability before the October 31 deadline, The Athletic’s Joseph Person notes (subscription required). The Panthers, as they have done at a few junctures over the past 14 months, squashed trade overtures for Burns.

The Jaguars, Falcons and Ravens inquired about Burns last year, with the Bears and 49ers — the teams that eventually landed the Commanders’ trade chips — also involved in the second deadline pursuit of the Panthers Pro Bowler. This was only the second-most notable deadline Burns pursuit, as the Rams’ two-first-rounder proposal will be difficult to beat. No team approached the Rams’ 2022 Burns offer last year. Though, it is certainly interesting the Commanders checked in.

With Josh Harris believed to be a central part of the course change, the Commanders made the surprising choice to trade both Young and Sweat at last year’s deadline. The new owner emphasized picking up draft assets, doing so before pushing out the team’s fourth-year HC/top decision-maker (Ron Rivera) after the trades helped drive the team to a 4-13 record and the No. 2 overall draft slot. For Washington to also be interested in Burns would seem to run counter to the newly established mission.

Then again, the organization’s Panthers ties could explain this effort. Rivera was in place as Carolina’s HC when Burns went off the 2019 draft board in the first round. Marty Hurney was as well, working in his second stint as Panthers GM when the team chose Burns 16th overall. Hurney worked under Rivera in Washington, serving as the team’s executive VP of player personnel previously. While Harris sacked Rivera, Hurney and former GM Martin Mayhew remain with the organization in different roles.

It would seem unlikely Harris would have signed off on a blockbuster Burns acquisition, but given the Panthers’ stance on the former Rivera/Hurney investment, it is a moot point anyway. In addition to turning down the aforementioned Rams offer, former Panthers GM Scott Fitterer refused to include Burns in the 2023 trade for the No. 1 overall pick. That led to D.J. Moore being sent to Chicago last March. The Burns trade developments have only emboldened the upper-crust sack artist on the contract front, and another chapter — this time involving new Panthers GM Dan Morgan — looks set to begin soon.

The Panthers remain likely to use their franchise tag on Burns, Person adds. The two-time Pro Bowler sought a $30MM-per-year deal during the 2023 offseason. At the time, that would have established a new position record. T.J. Watt held that distinction for two years, via his $28MM-AAV Steelers re-up, but Nick Bosa topped it on the $34MM-per-year accord the 49ers gave him in September. Burns has not proven to be in the Watt or Bosa class, but the Panthers have armed him with considerable leverage. Bosa’s extension will certainly impact the Panthers’ talks with Burns, which were effectively paused during the latter’s contract year.

Burns, who stands to be Carolina’s first tag recipient since Taylor Moton in 2021, said he wants to stay with the Panthers. But it will clearly be costly for the team to retain him. It will be interesting to see if Fitterer’s successor affects these talks. Though, Morgan was in place as Carolina’s assistant GM from 2021-23. A tag, which will cost approximately $22.7MM, will buy the Panthers more time. They would have until July 15 to extend Burns, though a trade can be worked out beyond that point.

View Comments (2)