Panthers linebacker Brian Burns warms up before an NFL fooball...

Panthers linebacker Brian Burns warms up before an NFL fooball game against the Colts on Nov. 5, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C. Credit: AP/Jacob Kupferman

The Giants believe their pass rush got better this week.

Make that considerably better.

On Wednesday, outside linebacker Brian Burns was introduced to the Giants media on a zoom call. A lot is expected of Burns, a Carolina Panther for the past five seasons.

“I’m super excited to be here,” Burns said. “I’m kind of giddy.”

Asked if he’s a “New York kind of guy,” Burns said, “For sure. I don’t feel like New York will be too big for me.”

In the biggest deal of his tenure with the Giants, general manager Joe Schoen completed a sign-and-trade with the Panthers for Burns, who agreed to a five-year, $150 million deal with the Giants, including $87.5 million guaranteed. Burns becomes the second-highest-paid pass rusher in the NFL in terms of average annual salary, at $30 million - behind only Nick Bosa of the 49ers, who makes $34 million per year.


Burns received a signing bonus of $25 million and is set to receive $90 million over the first three years of the contract.

With the Giants, Burns will be asked to meet very high expectations and to team with Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux to form the nucleus of a formidable defensive line.

Fortunately for Burns, introductions are not necessary.

“I came out [of college] with Dexter,” Burns said. “With Thibodeaux, I took him out as a recruit at Florida State. [Thibodeaux ultimately chose Oregon]. There’s a lot of talent on this [Giants] team. Respect to Carolina, I had a great five years there, but it came to an end, and we split paths. But I’m super excited to be a Giant. I’m ready to continue my career and do great things.”

Lawrence was named to Pro Football Focus’s All-Pro team and Thibodeaux is coming off his first double-digit sack season. According to PFF, the trio, including Burns, combined for 148 quarterback pressures and 23.5 sacks in 2023.

Asked to describe the player the Giants are getting, Burns said: “Getting someone who’s coming to work, always going to be professional, being a pro is number one. Other than that, I’m relentless, they’re getting a playmaker, and they’re getting a guy who’s really going to enjoy the process, day-by- day. I really take a lot of pride in getting better. I really feel like I can learn from a lot of cats, especially on this team. Other than that, I’m a team guy, have always been a team guy. I’m a natural leader, and I’m just ready to get the work in.”

Coming off a 6-11 season, the Giants need the help. Schoen traded this year’s second-round draft pick and a 2025 fifth-round selection for Burns.

Last year, the Rams offered the Panthers two first-round draft picks for Burns. Clearly the Panthers bungled that situation.

Burns, who will turn 26 in April, was drafted by the Panthers in 2019 with the 16th overall pick and had 7.5 sacks in his rookie season. In five seasons in Carolina, he recorded 46 sacks, the fifth-most in franchise history. The two-time Pro Bowler had a career-high 12.5 sacks in 2022 and  eight in 2023. 

Certainly, the Giants need the help. Only three teams had fewer sacks than the Giants' 34 last season. Schoen has specifically aimed to change that, and has seemingly done so with the Burns acquisition.

"I think the up-field pass rush is going to be more of a premium versus the read-and-react," Schoen said earlier this year of new defensive coordinator Shane Bowen's system. "Maybe a little bit less man coverage, but we are going to be physical, fast, and we’re going to be sound in our assignments."

More Giants


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months