Devin Funchess saw what the Packers were cookin’ in 2020 from the comfort of his couch and decided he wanted in – no matter the cost. Turns out that will be about $750,000.
Funchess, who last saw the field in an Indianapolis Colts uniform in 2019, signed with the Packers last offseason but opted out of 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. Those concerns were extremely valid, and I’m glad he had a safe and healthy 2020 with his family. The issue did arise this season, with a drastically reduced salary cap forcing many players to be cut or take one. Funchess chose the latter, and now Green Bay can retain a solid wide receiver without breaking the bank.
Where will Funchess reside on the depth chart?
Free-agent and fan-favorite Allen Lazard’s future with the team is up in the air. Losing him would be upsetting to many, including QB1. Rodgers has often spoken of Lazard’s consistency, which earned his elusive trust early and rewarded Lazard with a handful of decent games, and a mixtape of important and impressive catches. With the salary cap being an issue, will the Packers have enough space to sign “Alien Lizard” AND Devin Funchess?
I am no cap expert and don’t pretend to have any insight into what the Packers front office wants to do, but if Lazard were to find a new home in 2021, this writer doesn’t believe the Packers offense would miss a beat. Funchess is, in many ways, an upgrade over the undrafted free agent from Iowa State. Let’s take a look:
Over Lazard’s entire career (3 seasons/27 games), he has logged 99 targets, 69 receptions, and 935 yards. Funchess’ first full season in 2017 netted him 111 targets for 63 targets and 840 yards. Now, at first blush, you may be thinking Lazard is the more consistent receiver. This may be proven true. However, you have to account that Lazard is catching Aaron Rodgers’ passes, whereas Funchess was catching Cam Newton’s passes. Newton is a tremendous talent and athlete, but Rodgers is a much more accurate thrower of the football. Newton also reduces the number of receiving yards a wideout is likely to receive on the season simply because they themselves run the ball so much more.
Funchess Fantasy Perspective
Lazard has never been more than a finger’s crossed flier during any given week and has a frustrating tendency to disappear during games he should be performing well in. He’s also only scored six touchdowns in his entire career, which shocked me a bit. Funchess, on the other hand, has scored 21 TDs in his 62 games, which puts him averaging about one touchdown every three games versus Lazard’s one every four.
This is not all to say Lazard is bad or worse than Funchess. Lazard is younger, has less experience, and is still on the rise. All this is to say that should we be unable to re-sign Lazard, the Packers shouldn’t worry as much about losing him as initially thought. Funchess stands 6’4″ to Lazard’s 6’5″ and has a similar vertical (38.5 vs. 38). Funchess is slower than Lazard (4.70 40 vs. 4.55), but hopefully his experience trying to catch Cam Newton’s throws will make the game a whole lot slower for the former Michigan standout.
Overall, this pay cut was a genius move by all parties. Next season’s salary cap will likely increase substantially with the COVID-19 vaccinations hopefully rolled out to almost every American by the time the season starts, opening stadiums up in full or close to it. The Packers get to retain at least one solid wideout with upside to be between the All-World Davante Adams and the coming-into-his-own deep-threat Marquez Valdes-Scantling, while Funchess himself has shown selflessness and set himself up well for a big deal if he “proves-it”. And if the Packers can resign Lazard as well? Look out.
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