Panthers Would Consider Using Franchise Tag On Brian Burns

While the Panthers would prefer to sign Brian Burns to an extension, GM Dan Morgan told reporters that “all options are on the table” when it comes to retaining their star pass rusher, including the franchise tag. With the March 5 franchise tag deadline rapidly approaching, Morgan revealed that he’ll be meeting with Burns’ agent this week regarding a potential extension.

“We’ll have a little more clarity on the situation after that, but we’re working on it,” Morgan said (via Darin Gantt of the team’s website). “I think right now, all options are on the table. You know, what those options are, we’ll find out. I’ll have a little more clarity on that after I meet with the agent.”

The franchise tag for Burns would come in at $24MM for the 2024 campaign. While a hypothetical extension could produce a higher average annual value, the team would have more flexibility to lessen the impending cap hits. Still, the Panthers clearly don’t want Burns to walk away for nothing, and when asked pointedly if the Panthers would consider the franchise tag, the GM didn’t mince words.

“We would definitely use it if we had to use it, and you know, we love Brian,” Morgan continued. “Brian’s a Panther. Somebody that I know and that I’m close to, I played with his brother. So, I definitely love Brian. But all options are on the table for him.”

Burns has spent his entire career with the Panthers, earning Pro Bowl nods in both 2021 and 2022. From a counting-stats perspective, his 2023 numbers were down a bit; after averaging more than 10 sacks per season between 2020 and 2022, Burns finished with only eight sacks last year. He still finished the campaign with 16 tackles for loss and 18 QB hits, and Pro Football Focus still graded him as the 37th edge rusher among 112 qualifiers.

Nick Bosa currently paces all edge rushers with a $34MM AAV, and three other pass-rushers are making north of $25MM per season (T.J. Watt, Joey Bosa, and Myles Garrett). Burns is younger than those higher-paid counterparts, and while he may not receive the same total money or guarantees, he could push to be among the highest-paid edge rushers in terms of AAV.

We heard recently that the Commanders joined a number of teams in contacting Carolina about Burns’ availability leading up to this year’s trade deadline. While the pass-rusher would surely have a number of suitors in free agency, it sounds like he won’t even make it that far.

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