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Less than a week before the start of 2024 NFL free agency, one of the top veterans set to be available has come off the market, with the Carolina Panthers using their franchise tag Tuesday to temporarily secure pass-rusher Brian Burns.

Burns, 25, was one of several high-level defenders on track to test the open market, though Panthers general manager Dan Morgan recently indicated the team would use the tag to retain him. The one-year tender guarantees Burns $24 million for 2024, which would make him the sixth-highest-paid player at his position, per Over the Cap. It is, however, a non-exclusive tag, which means Burns will be free to speak with -- and receive contract offers from -- other teams once free agency begins.

In this way, the tag likely marks just the next step in an ongoing saga between the two sides, with Burns and the Panthers notably failing to come to terms on a long-term deal for consecutive offseasons. Should another team extend Burns an offer under the non-exclusive tag, the Panthers would have a chance to match said offer, or permit him to exit in return for two first-round draft picks. Otherwise, it's possible, if not probable, the team could also look to trade the two-time Pro Bowler on the tag, allowing another team to meet Burns' demands for a lucrative extension. ESPN previously reported the former first-round draft pick had been seeking a deal averaging $30 million per year prior to the 2023 campaign.

The Panthers have reportedly rejected trade offers for Burns in the past, including an apparent blockbuster proposal from the Los Angeles Rams, but they could be more motivated to sell if it means bolstering resources for the offensive side of the ball under new head coach Dave Canales. Picked No. 16 overall out of Florida State in 2019, Burns has been one of the NFL's steadiest pass-rushers since joining the pros, totaling 46 sacks and 95 quarterback hits over five seasons.

Presuming Burns signs the tag, he and the Panthers would have several months to continue negotiations on a long-term deal, or explore a trade. He otherwise would've been free to negotiate with all 31 other teams starting March 11.