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Brian Burns 'ready to do great things' for Giants


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Brian Burns said he is "just a little bit giddy" to join the Giants.

It's safe to say the Giants are more than a little giddy to have him.

The team introduced its new defensive standout and marquee acquisition in a virtual news conference as the NFL's new league year officially began. Burns, a defensive end/outside linebacker, sounds as if he'd be happy if the season started this coming Sunday.

"Right now, the moment is still a little surreal," Burns said. "It just got done not too long ago. I got my family here. They're extremely happy for me. Right now, I'm kind of overtaken with a lot of emotions, but once I'm done processing, I'm super excited to be here. Once I'm done processing, then everything will come back down, and I'll really sit in fruition. Right now, I'm kind of all over the place."

View photos of the newest members of the Giants touring the Quest Diagnostics Training Center for the first time.

Burns grew up and played college football in Florida (Florida State). Is he a New York kind of guy?

"For sure, for sure," he said. "I feel like I can adapt anywhere. Coming from Florida, you get a little taste of everything. So, I feel like New York wouldn't be too big for me."

We'll learn soon enough because Burns will be heavily and constantly scrutinized. Burns is one of the NFL's most effective pass rushers. He played his first five seasons for the Carolina Panthers, for whom he had 46.0 sacks and was twice selected to the Pro Bowl (2021-22). He joins a Giants team that finished the 2023 season with 34 sacks, tied for the league's fourth-lowest total. The Panthers, who finished 2-15, had the NFL's fewest sacks with 27. Burns had 8.0 of them.

In 2022, Burns tallied a career-high 12.5 sacks. He's never finished a season with fewer than 7.5, his total as a rookie in 2019.

His 46.0 sacks rank fifth in Panthers history and are tied for the 12th-highest total in the NFL since he entered the league. He ranks third among players in the 2019 draft class, behind San Francisco's Nick Bosa (53.5) and Las Vegas' Maxx Crosby (52.0). Burns has seven career multi-sack games.

But Burns is far more interested in winning games than compiling impressive stats. In his five seasons in Carolina, the Panthers didn't win more than seven games in a season, were a combined 24-59 (.289) and never contended for the postseason.

"I want to put that in the rearview as soon as possible," Burns said of the losing seasons. "But I honestly would say that I feel like it definitely prepared me for what's coming in the future. Going through seasons as such, it was tough, but it kind of teaches you resilience. It kind of teaches you not to give up. It kind of just shows your character. So, I feel like throughout that process, I've grown."

The Giants obtained Burns in a trade with the Panthers, sending them a 2024 second-round draft choice (No. 39) and a 2025 fifth-round selection and agreeing to a swap of fifth rounders this year (the Giants getting No. 166 and sending No. 141 to Carolina).

Burns will join fellow edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, the fifth overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, to give the Giants a potentially lethal pair of quarterback harassers. As an NFL sophomore last season, Thibodeaux led the Giants with 11.5 sacks, or 6.5 more than any of his teammates. That gap should close with Burns on board.

"I think it will be healthy competition," Burns said. "We're definitely going to push each other because he's very talented, as well am I. But it's all fun and games. I think we're going to make each other a lot better, honestly. It will definitely be healthy competition, for sure."

What kind of player are the Giants getting in Burns?

"They're getting somebody that's coming to work, always be professional, always be a pro, that's number one," he said. "I'm relentless. They're getting a playmaker. They're just getting a guy that's really going to enjoy the process, take it day by day.

"I really take a lot of pride in getting better. I feel like I can learn from a lot of cats, especially on this team. Other than that, I'm a team guy, always been a team guy. I'm a natural leader. I'm just ready to get to work and ready to get with these guys."

Burns, 6-5 and 250 pounds, turns 26 on April 23. He was the 16th overall selection of the 2019 Draft, one spot before the Giants chose defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence. Including quarterback Daniel Jones, who was taken sixth, three of the top 17 players in that draft will now wear Giants blue.

"I came out with Dexter," Burns said. "Thibodeaux, I know him. I actually took him on a recruit visit at Florida State. But they got dogs on the inside, they got a dog behind them in the linebacker corps (Bobby Okereke). So, there's a lot of talent on this team.

"Respect to Carolina. I really appreciate them drafting me back in '19, and I had a great five years there. It just came to an end, and we split paths. I'm just super excited to be a Giant now. I'm ready to start this new journey and continue my career. I'm ready to do great things."

And the Giants are eager to benefit from them.


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