The Panthers have already made one blockbuster trade over the past 48 hours and it appears they could have made a second one, but that didn't happen because the team decided to turn down a massive offer for defensive end Brian Burns.
According to ESPN.com, one team offered TWO first-round picks for Burns, but the Panthers rejected the deal. After trading away Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers on Thursday, there was some speculation that the Panthers might have a fire sale heading into the Nov. 1 trade deadline, but that's clearly not the case, because if that were going to happen, they would have jumped all over the offer for Burns.
The Pantherswith the 49ers sending Carolina three picks in 2023 (a second-rounder, a third-rounder and a fourth-rounder) along with one pick in 2024 (fifth-round).
The McCaffrey deal came just three days after the Panthers had pulled off another trade with Carolina sending disgruntled wide receiver Robbie Anderson to Arizona in (sixth-round pick in 2024 and a seventh-round pick in 2025).
Of course, those picks pale in comparison to what the Panthers would have gotten for Burns. The Panthers are clearly in the process of a rebuild and getting two first-round picks definitely would have helped, but the team wasn't willing to part ways with Burns, who is viewed as a cornerstone of the defense. Burns, the 16th overall pick in the 2019 draft, had 9 sacks each of the past two seasons after getting 7.5 as a rookie. A Pro Bowler last year, CBS Sports named himthis offseason.
Following the McCaffrey trade, general manager manager Scott Fitterer said the team would always listen to trade offers, but they wouldn't be willing to deal away someone like Burns unless they got an "astronomical" offer.
"Philosophically, we always listen. We have gotten calls. We've said no to all of them," Fitterer said Friday, via the Panthers official website. "I think there's certain players on this team; we like the really young core of our team. We're building. This isn't a situation where we're trying to sell. We're trying to add players to this already really good young mix."
Pick Six Newsletter
Crafted By The Best NFL Experts
Get the day's big stories + fun stuff you love like mock drafts, picks and power rankings.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Fitterer made it sound like players like Burns and defensive tackle Derrick Brown almost certainly wouldn't be traded.
"I want those guys here," Fitterer said. "These are guys that we win with moving forward."
Despite Fitterer's words, trading away Burns before the deadline could have made some sense. The fourth-year player, who was selected with the 16th overall pick in 2019, is likely going to get a massive contract extension after the 2022 season that will make him one of the highest paid defensive ends in the NFL. Even if that extension didn't happen, Burns' salary would still go up from $2.3 million in 2022 to $16 million in 2023, which is his salary rate for the fifth-year option in his contract. Instead of taking the massive cap hit, the Panthers could have picked up two first-round picks, which would have actually saved them some money because two draft picks would almost certainly be cheaper than whatever Burns ends up signing for.
The Panthers obviously thought this through though, and they clearly feel that Burns is worth more to them than two first-rounders.