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Experts grade Giants' acquisition of Brian Burns


The Giants provided a big boost to its defense this week with the acquisition of outside linebacker Brian Burns.

The two-time Pro Bowler has registered 46 sacks in 80 career games (67 starts) across five seasons with the Panthers. His sack total is tied for 12th in the NFL since he entered the league while his 59 tackles for loss are tied for sixth-most in that span.

Burns will now be joined on the defensive line by fellow two-time Pro Bowler Dexter Lawrence on the inside and Kayvon Thibodeaux, who just turned in his first double-digit sack season, on the outside. According to Pro Football Focus, the trio combined for 148 quarterback pressures in 2023.

Many NFL analysts praised the Giants for their big swing in landing Burns at the start of free agency.

Here are the expert grades for the trade.

Grade: A

Analysis: "The Giants' defensive line now features Burns, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Dexter Lawrence II. In an NFC East that once again seems wide open, the Giants have a legitimate strength on one side of the ball. Defensive end is arguably the second-most important position in football, and while the Giants gave up draft assets and spent big on Burns, having to pay a good pass-rusher is a good problem to have. We saw the same thing play out with the Bears at last season's deadline when they dealt for Montez Sweat and immediately gave him a big contract. It's much better than not having a premier player at the edge position."

Grade: A

Analysis: "The second-round pick is a quality asset, but it's worth the price for a pass rusher who figures to remain on an upward trajectory for a few more years. Burns, who turns 26 in April, has consistently gotten after the quarterback for defenses that too frequently didn't provide much help around him. He's also durable, having missed only three games in five seasons. With Burns, Thibodeaux and defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, the Giants are investing in the trenches, which is necessary to compete against the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East."

Grade: A

Analysis: "Give credit to the Giants for addressing a pass rush that was one of the worst in the NFL and adding one of the game's top edge rushers -- only giving up a 2024 second-round pick and 2025 fifth-round pick to get Burns. New York still has Kayvon Thibodeaux (23) and Dexter Lawrence (26) to pair with Burns (25), creating one of the best pass rushing units in football... New York is a better team with Burns on the defense."

Grade: A++ (Fit/Need)

Analysis: "The most favorable way to look at this deal is that the Giants effectively used the draft capital they acquired for interior defender Leonard Williams to land a younger player looking for a second contract instead of a third contract. Burns addresses arguably the biggest need on this Giants roster and should have a lot less attention on him all the time now playing alongside Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux."

View the best photos from the NFL career of outside linebacker Brian Burns.

Grade: A-

Analysis: "The Giants now have an excellent pass rushing duo with first-rounders Burns and third-year edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux (11.5 sacks last season). They'll lead the effort to improve the pass rush that generated only 34 sacks in 2023 to rank 29th."

Grade: B+

Analysis: "New York needed another force player along the front seven that it could rely on to generate consistent pressure. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence is the NFL's best pass-rushing nose tackle, while Thibodeaux came into his own as his rookie campaign progressed. But Burns will add a new dimension to the Giants' pass-rushing plan. An athletic marvel, Burns has been incredibly consistent for the Panthers, posting at least eight sacks and 18 QB hits in four straight years. And perhaps most importantly, he won't turn 26 years old until next month. Young, talented, franchise-caliber pass rushers like Burns don't often become available. Good on the Giants for striking and adding a premier talent at a minimal draft cost."

Grade: B+

Analysis: "What an absolute grand slam by Giants general manager Joe Schoen. In the interest of taking more offensive line attention off the ascending Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York pairs him with Burns, one of the NFL's most underrated edge defenders. Any time you can give your franchise player a running mate with 95 quarterback hits, 59 tackles-for-loss, and 46 sacks in 67 career games, you take it and run... New York now potentially owns one of the finest pass-rush duos in the NFL, and both are locked in for the foreseeable future. This is exactly how you revamp and revitalize a defense."

Named the Giants' trade for Burns among the five best moves at the start of free agency

Analysis: "The Giants not only landed Burns for a low cost (draft-pick wise), they were able to pair him with Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux on the defensive line which is going to be a *problem* for quarterbacks in 2024. Burns was a bad fit in Carolina's scheme and should have a bounce back season coming up."


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