Detroit Lions rumors: Examining an alternate path to bringing Brian Burns aboard

If the Lions dive into the big-name end of the pool of available edge rushers, there might be a viable alternate path to getting Brian Burns.

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With a real need to acquire a good edge rusher to pair with Aidan Hutchinson this offseason, the Detroit Lions should leave no stones unturned.

The path to acquiring a proven edge rusher is sure to be costly. The Lions have to weigh the cost against the risks, while also lacing in the most ideal fit with how highly they value that. If a big splash is made to get an edge rusher, he'd ideally be a mix of really good, experienced and relatively young.

Brian Burns is among the top free agent edge rushers available, if not No. 1 when you combined his age (25, 26 on April 23), production (at least 7.5 sacks all five seasons of his career), potential unrealized upside and the lack of traction he and the Carolina Panthers have had on getting a long-term deal done.

Of course the Panthers can franchise tag Burns, and keep him for one more year. But in a response to a question about franchise tags, and tag and trade candidates, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated has offered the idea of a tag-and-trade happening with Burns.

"...In Burns’s case, it’s because he and the Panthers haven’t been close on a long-term agreement over the last couple years."

Back in November, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported the Panthers were expected to franchise tag Burns.

A tag and trade would offer easier path for the Lions to get Brian Burns

Rather than having to sign him to a big multi-year deal right off the bat in March, 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.

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.

Over The Cap's projections for 2024 franchise tags puts the number at $23.348 million for a defensive end. That would be locked in fully guaranteed for Burns in 2024 if he were given a typical franchise tag.

Spotrac has Burns' market value tabbed at $21.7 million per year (a five-year, $108.7 million deal). It seems the Lions can make a long-term deal like that work for someone who can be a legit building block.

If the Lions are pondering an aggressive move to add an edge rusher, Burns could easily be No. 1 on their list of targets. If the Panthers franchise tag him with the idea of turning around and taking trade offers, that's an alternate path to getting him that shouldn't be dismissed.


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