Devin Funchess signing brings size, experience to Packers' receiving corps

Tom Silverstein
Packers News
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Carolina Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess (17) celebrates his long reception against the Green Bay Packers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., on Nov. 8, 2015.

GREEN BAY - If Devin Funchess can return to the 2018 form in which he caught 44 passes for 549 yards and four touchdowns for the Carolina Panthers, then the Green Bay Packers will have a slightly faster version of Jimmy Graham at wide receiver.

NFL Network reported that Funchess, an unrestricted free agent with the Indianapolis Colts, was expected to sign with the Packers.

Terms of the deal were not reported, but Funchess made $10 million on a one-year deal last year and missed all but one game with a broken clavicle. The Packers undoubtedly were looking to take advantage of a depressed receiver market, so how much they paid will be critical in determining whether they got a bargain.

The 6-4, 225-pound Funchess, a second-round pick of Carolina in 2015, got off to a slow start, catching 54 passes for 844 yards and nine touchdowns over his first two seasons, but he was a full-time starter after that and caught 107 passes for 1,389 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2016 and ’17.

“He's a good No. 3 to a decent No. 2,” an NFC scout said. “He's big and has good athletic ability but hands have always been questionable. He's going to have some drops. Big target and I know the quarterback there likes big guys.

“It will be interesting to see what the terms are. The wide receiver market is very depressed with the strong receiver draft class, so they may have gotten him on a bargain.”

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Earlier in the day, New York Jets free agent Robby Anderson signed a two-year, $20 million deal with the Panthers. Prior to that, Philadelphia free agent Nelson Agholor signed a one-year, $1.045 million deal with the Oakland Raiders for what is considered the veteran exemption because it only counts $750,000 against the salary cap.

The Packers were about $13 million under the cap going into the day, so if they did the one-year veteran exemption, their cap number went down very slightly. They also could have done an incentive-laden deal that would not count much against the cap because he only played in one game last year.

Incentives count as “not likely to be earned” if there is no expectation of the player reaching them based on his previous year’s statistics.

Funchess played in one game last year and caught three passes for 32 yards. Over his career, he has averaged 13.8 yards per catch and scored 21 touchdowns.

Despite his great size and decent speed (4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine but 4.47 at his pro day at Michigan), Funchess has not been a sure thing when it comes to hauling down passes.

In 2018, he ranked 64th in the NFC in catch percentage, bringing in just 55.7% of the throws his way. In ’17, he ranked 56th at 56.8%.

The Packers have a lot of big receivers like Funchess, although none as highly rated as he was coming out of college. Allen Lazard, Marquez-Valdes Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown are all in the 6-foot-4 range.

Devin Funchess played briefly for the Colts in 2019 before being sidelined by a broken collarbone.

The Packers still have the draft to help beef up their receiver position. It is one of the strongest receiver drafts in some time and the Packers should be able to use more than one of their 10 selections on a receiver.

However, it’s likely that offseason workouts will not take place this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, which means rookies will have a lot less time to acclimate themselves to the NFL game. As a result, it will be imperative that the Packers have some veteran bodies able to carry the load, especially in the early going of the season.

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