5 edge rushers the Detroit Lions should pursue in free agency

The Detroit Lions need an edge rusher to pair with Aidan Hutchinson, and these 5 free agents could be on their radar.
Morgan Tencza-USA TODAY Sports
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1. Brian Burns

The Panthers have thoroughly botched their situation with Burns. They reportedly turned down some pretty rich trade offers as he neared the end of his contract, and talks about a long-term deal have also ever seemed to get very far. They could franchise tag him, with the deadline coming Tuesday.

But on the last day of the NFL Combine Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reported the Panthers were putting contract talks on hold with the Burns. A tag and trade scenario seems to be possible, and based on another report the franchise tag will happen as Carolina uses the only card they have. But at this point, it's also plausible Burns is just freely available to bidders on the open market.

And Burns would would surely spit (metaphorically) on any contract offer the Panthers gave him even if they tag him, opening the door to the tag and trade idea. The Lions have the cap space to absorb his franchise tag amount ($24 million) before entering talks on a multi-year deal.

Update, 10:45 a.m. ET: Burns has been franchise tagged.

Combine some key elements, like age (25, 26 on April 23), production (at least 7.5 sacks in all five seasons of his career, at least 13 tackles for loss in each of the last three), potential unrealized upside if he found a stable situation, and Burns has a case for being the No. 1 free agent edge rusher (if he is not tagged and Josh Allen is tagged, he would clearly be).

If, and it's a huge "if", the Lions make a splashy move this offseason, it'll surely be for either a top-end cornerback or a top-end edge rusher. If things go a certain way, the edge rusher they'd go all-in to get could be Burns. If he's available and simply wants out of Carolina, maybe he takes a little less than his max market value to be in Detroit for awhile on a long-term deal.

It may never get off the ground, but the Lions should keep their eyes open to any possible opportunity to add Burns as the new league year approaches.

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