CHARLOTTE — The Panthers formalized what was widely expected Friday, officially picking up the fifth-year option on defensive end Brian Burns' rookie contract.
Burns is now under contract through the 2023 season, but that could also be a formality.
General manager Scott Fitterer has already identified Burns as a priority, and hopes to talk to him about a long-term contract extension.
The 2019 first-rounder is coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance.
His 25.5 sacks in his first three seasons are second-most all-time in franchise history, behind only Julius Peppers, who had 30.0 in his first three years.
The team is emphasizing drafting and developing their own, after extending wide receiver DJ Moore and bringing back free agent cornerback Donte Jackson earlier this offseason.
Brian Burns ranks sixth in franchise history with 36.0 career sacks, and is six away from Hall of Famer Kevin Greene for fifth on that list (41.5).