From Anticipation to Anxiety – Inside the Panthers Untimely Stalemate with Brian Burns

Ever since last offseason, Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer has been pretty vocal about the team’s priority of extending EDGE Brian Burns. This past offseason, it was revealed that the team turned down a trade proposal with the Los Angeles Rams that included multiple first round picks. That was yet another, perhaps the biggest, indicator of how highly valued the Pro Bowler was and remains. That’s why the current negotiation status is perplexing, and downright inconvenient as the team prepares to hit the road for the season opener.

Burns fielded questions all summer as he attended and participated in all team activities, mini camps, OTAs, and training camp. Many in his position would and have sat out of such activities as they awaited new contracts. But not Brian Burns. Constantly dogged with questions of why he has decided to show up, he’s remained steadfast that he believes in what is being built in Carolina and wants to be a part of it.

As the football world waited for San Francisco 49er Nick Bosa to sign a blockbuster deal that would inevitably reset the market for the position, Burns showed up. He was a full participant on the field and with media. His coaches and teammates spoke glowingly of him. Panthers fans admired his dedication to the team. Yet, with Bosa signed, there has reportedly been no progress made to extending the Florida State product drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Bosa’s 5 year – $170 million contract is the largest in history for a defensive player and came after he sat out all of training camp. There have been rumors regarding the numbers when it comes to Burns and while no one definitively knows the details, the reality is a stalemate couldn’t come at a worst time.

After being in the building but not participating in last Thursday’s practice and Monday’s walkthrough, Burns has been back in full pads and practicing with the team since Wednesday in preparation – or at least Carolina fans hope – for Sunday’s season opener on the road against NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons. He has declined to speak to media in the locker room and that’s to be expected. What was once an amicable negotiation seems to have gone sour at some point. Burns’ father commented on Instagram that “Brian is definitely Not Happy!!” His frustration is understandable. He has been the consummate professional and teammate throughout this entire process just for it to come to this point.

The NFC South division is down and this is the perfect time to seize control. The Falcons always play the Panthers tough and the team has enough on its plate when it comes to setting the tone early for the season. Frank Reich will be chasing his first season-opening win as a head coach after going 0-4-1 in Indianapolis. Rookie and No. 1 overall draft pick Bryce Young will get the start but he will be without wide receiver DJ Chark and veteran receiver Adam Thielen is questionable. Whether Burns will travel with the team or not is unknown as Reich was noncommittal when speaking with media on Friday. Anticipation has been brewing to the highest it’s been in recent years just to be replaced with anxiety as Sunday approaches.

David Tepper and the Panthers did all they could to put themselves in position to at least start the journey to sustained excellence after dwelling in the dumps of the division and failing to advance to the postseason since 2017. Don’t shoot yourselves in the foot now. Sign Burns so the team can focus on the task at hand.

Sheena Quick
Sports mom/accountant/life-long athlete and lover of all sports.