Lions Land Star Edge Rusher in ‘Tag-to-Trade’ Proposed Blockbuster

Aidan Hutchinson Brian Burns

Getty Fansided's Brian Berreman proposed the possibility of the Detroit Lions trading for edge rusher Brian Burns after the Carolina Panthers placed the franchise tag on him.

The Detroit Lions will likely need to add a pass rusher to next year’s roster to win a championship. Fansided’s Brad Berreman argued the Lions should consider all possibilities in adding an edge rusher. That includes a potential unusual trade with the Carolina Panthers for Brian Burns.

Berreman suggested the Lions trade for Burns after the Panthers place the franchise tag on the defensive end this offseason.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on November 4 that the Panthers turned down trade offers for Burns. But if Carolina began entertaining offers now, Berreman proposed the Lions send their No. 29 overall pick for Burns.

“The Panthers possibly tagging and trading Burns might widen the list of teams who could enter the mix to get him; even it may only be a one-year rental,” wrote Berreman.

“The Lions are armed with ample cap space, and their late-first round pick would be easy to part with if it meant getting Burns. In terms of giving up that first-round pick for an edge rusher in a trade scenario, maybe it’d be him or no one.”

Berreman linked the Lions to Burns after Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer wrote on February 14 that Burns “could be” a “tag-to-trade candidate.”

On February 19, The Athletic’s Randy Mueller named Burns the best available edge rusher in NFL free agency. Mueller also rated Burns the top overall player potentially available in free agency this offseason.

Pro Football Focus and USA Today have ranked Burns the second-best available edge rusher in this year’s free agency class. Pro Football Network also rated Burns second among available edge rushers behind Josh Allen.

Brian Burns the Top Available Edge Rusher This Offseason?

Comparing Burns to Allen as the best edge rusher possibly available in free agency is like splitting hairs. Mueller prefers Burns because of his “age, athletic ability and all-around game.”

“His production was limited somewhat by the Panthers’ scheme, but his suddenness and pass rush package should translate to higher-volume production,” Mueller wrote. “Offenses must have a plan to deal with his ability each week.”

Burns, who turns 26 in April, didn’t make the Pro Bowl in 2023 likely because of that limited production. But he still had 8 sacks with 16 tackles for loss and 18 quarterback hits.

Burns has posted at least 7.5 sacks in each of his first five NFL seasons. He had 12.5 sacks, 17 tackles for loss and 22 quarterback hits in 2022.

He would have the potential for a lot more on a defense paired with another elite edge rusher.

Although PFF and USA Today had Allen ranked ahead of Burns on their list of best available edge rushers, both publications still had Burns rated as one of the top 5 free agents this offseason.

How Dynamic Could Lions Pass Rush Become With Burns?

Obviously, pairing Burns with Aidan Hutchinson would make for an elite duo. Such a duo could turn Detroit’s pass rush from one of the team’s weaknesses into a strength.

In 2023, the Lions led the NFL in pressure rate, but they were just 23rd in sacks with 41. Hutchinson was the only Detroit defender with more than 5 sacks.

Other than Hutchinson, defensive tackle Alim McNeill was the only other Lions defender with more than 3 sacks.

Finding an edge rusher to complement Hutchinson must be at the top of the team’s offseason to-do list.

Spotrac projected Burns to be worth nearly $109 million on a 5-year contract. Such a deal would include an average annual salary of about $21.7 million.

Although it would be expensive to acquire Burns and then pay him, Burns would more than satisfy the objective of finding an edge rusher to pair with Hutchinson.

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