Rejected Rams Proposal Affected Panthers’ Extension Talks With Brian Burns

One of the bigger trade what-ifs during this NFL period occurred before the 2022 deadline, when the Panthers turned down a monster Rams offer for Brian Burns. While the Rams shifted into a retooling mode — with a greater interest on rookie contracts — as their Super Bowl LVI title defense skidded off track, the fallout from the failed pursuit affected the Panthers.

Serious Carolina-Burns extension talks did not commence until 2023, but the Pro Bowl edge rusher effectively held the failed trade against the Panthers, who turned down an offer that turned out to be much better than the one they ended up accepting from the Giants. Los Angeles offered two first-round picks and a third for Burns; Carolina ultimately accepted a second-rounder and a swap of fifths from New York.

[RELATED: Giants Impacted Panthers’ Trade-Up For RB Jonathon Brooks]

Once the Panthers rejected the Rams’ proposal in October 2022,’s Albert Breer notes the tone of his talks with Carolina did not improve. While Burns would have followed Von Miller and Dante Fowler as edge pieces sent to L.A. at a trade deadline, the Carolina edge stood in a position to be extended. It is unclear if the Rams had a deal ready to go, however, and Burns’ asking price ended up too high for the Panthers. Miller was in his age-32 season when the Rams acquired him, and Fowler had not performed on Burns’ level; the Rams acquiring a 25-year-old Pro Bowler would have separated that prospective trade from the Miller and Fowler swaps.

Although the Panthers were believed to be preparing for a Burns extension during the 2022 offseason, talks did not pick up until June 2023. By the time discussions did move into high gear, then-GM Scott Fitterer — empowered after the October 2022 Matt Rhule firing — had both rejected the Rams’ offer and kept their top sack artist out of the March 2023 trade with the Bears that sent the No. 1 overall pick to Carolina.

Before pivoting to D.J. Moore, the Bears asked about Burns and Derrick Brown. The Bears’ immediate extension for Montez Sweat upon acquiring the Commanders defensive end at the 2023 deadline created another what-if for Burns, though his involvement in those trade talks ultimately proved beneficial.

Burns had sought a deal in the $30MM-per-year ballpark, with that number coming up before the 49ers’ $34MM-AAV Nick Bosa agreement. Considering the accomplishment gap between Bosa and Burns, it was understandable the Panthers balked at giving the Ron Rivera-era draftee a deal that would have topped T.J. Watt‘s then-OLB-record number. Teams asked about Burns at the 2023 trade deadline as well, but the offers were not viewed as especially close to where the Rams went.

The snag coming out of the failed Rams trade talks became the Giants’ gain, with new GM Dan Morgan and former coworker Joe Schoen linking up on a March trade. They acquired Burns for a package similar to the one they received for Leonard Williams and gave the franchise-tagged edge rusher a five-year, $141MM deal that came with $76MM guaranteed at signing. Burns, 26, ranks in the top four in AAV, total guarantees and full guarantees among edge defenders. His contract, for the time being, overlaps with Kayvon Thibodeaux‘s rookie deal.

Carolina has since extended Brown, but cornerstones Moore and Burns are now elsewhere. The team’s receiving corps underwhelmed in 2023, contributing to Bryce Young‘s poor rookie season, and the team patched its OLB corps together with free agency additions in Morgan’s first offseason as GM. Jadeveon Clowney, D.J. Wonnum and K’Lavon Chaisson are now in place in Charlotte. The team does not appear to have an OLB pillar presently, and Morgan will be tasked with finding one to replace Burns in the long term.

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