Giants’ young pass rusher could benefit from blockbuster Brian Burns acquisition

nfl: tampa bay buccaneers at carolina panthers, new york giants
Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants‘ decision to acquire Brian Burns from the Carolina Panthers comes from the standpoint that an edge rusher is a point of positional value.

The Giants elected to let Saquon Barkley and Xavier McKinney walk in free agency, taking that money and applying it to Burns’ base salary, who will earn $30 million per season over the next five years.

Burns is coming off a quality campaign with the Carolina Panthers, despite the fact they were one of the worst teams in the league, and their defensive scheme often underutilized the star pass rusher.

The Giants Added Tremendous Value to the Defensive Front

Burns still produced 40 pressures and nine sacks, but his best season came back in 2022 when he produced 68 pressures and 13 sacks. The 25-year-old has substantial upside to continue his development, and the Giants are excited about the possibilities he brings to a unit that has struggled when it comes to rushing the passer over the past few years.

Relying on Kayvon Thibodeaux to dominate off the edge has been troubling. At 23 years old, Thibodeaux produced 13 sacks and 44 pressures last season over 981 snaps. He had an inconsistent but solid year as a sophomore in the NFL, but the addition of Burns should help him take a big step forward.

The Giants no longer have to rely on Thibodeaux to be their primary contributor; instead, they are looking to Burns to command double teams and take advantage of his experience. That is not even to mention Dexter Lawrence, one of the league’s best interior defenders and a player who commands a significant amount of double teams. In fact, he commanded a 71% double team rate, only behind Chris Jones at 72% this past season.

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Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants Have a Dynamic Duo Forming

Pairing two high-upside pass-rushers with Lawrence should provide substantial improvements in the trenches, with Shane Bowen as the new defensive coordinator.

General manager Joe Schoen has already committed to relying more heavily on the team’s edge rushers to be a key component of the defensive attack. Under the leadership of Wink Martindale, the Giants relied heavily on blitz packages, sending safeties and defensive backs dropping outside linebackers into coverage a bit too frequently.

One thing is certain: the Giants have invested heavily in specific positions, notably the offensive line and defensive front, and could allocate their first-round draft pick in April toward the quarterback position. This is certainly a different strategy from Dave Gettleman’s, but the Giants also have a much healthier salary cap situation moving forward.

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