The Carolina Panthers may have a fresh problem they can’t keep pounding through. The team’s top defender Brian Burns has flaked on a team walkthrough... with the team publicly uncertain if Burns will suit up in Week 1.
It all culminates in a potential bonus for the Atlanta Falcons who have yet to find a win in Week 1 under Arthur Smith.
Burns just wrapped up a 12.5 sack season and is fresh off of back to back Pro Bowls. He’s the team’s best defender if not the best player entering his age-25 season.
The former first-round pick is certainly trying to get paid as he sets to play (or not play) under his fifth-year option. In fact, Shaq Thompson said as much: this may be a holdout (the duration of which is unclear) over money. Burns isn’t in the Nick Bosa stratosphere with the 49ers pass rusher almost certain to reset the EDGE market with some crazy numbers (maybe $30 million average). Burns might earn closer to a Maxx Crosby or Trey Hendrickson level deal.
The Panthers don’t have a lot of excuses not to extend Burns. The team has plenty of cap space and one of the richest owners in the league, however, the Panthers haven’t been big spenders in recent years.
Head coach Frank Reich gave an ominous answer about Burns’ availability against the Falcons: “Do I hope he’s there vs. Atlanta? Absolutely. But if he’s not there, I’m not worried about it. Just move forward.” That does not sound optimistic even if it is the general coach speech.
For the Falcons, Burns being MIA definitely helps a passing offense that hopes to get off the ground. Again, Arthur Smith has to want to start this season off with a win and go over .500 for the first time in Atlanta. Desmond Ridder will definitely be watching the Burns news all week.