Devin Funchess Chose Family Over Football, Now He Faces a Hard Road Back

Packers have had a year to move on without him.

Nearly one year ago to the day, Devin Funchess was one happy and excited young man.  On April 2, 2020 the free agent receiver signed a one year, $2.5 million deal to play for the Packers.  The deal could swell to $3.75 million with incentives.   

 

After almost a year of being on the sidelines, this was opportunity knocking for Funchess.  The number two and three wide receiver positions were wide open.  Funchess was to compete for a job with a group that included Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Malik Taylor, none of whom had established a lock at the position.   None had his resume’ or his experience.  He had to feel good about his chances.  

 

Little did he know at the time there was an unseen enemy that would gradually work its way into the fabric of life for every American, a complication that would force him to make perhaps the toughest decision of his life. 

 

At the time he signed his contract, he, along with the rest of us, was just beginning to hear about something called coronavirus.  No big problem, he thought....we all thought.  Everybody will wear their masks and stay home, the virus will be gone by the end of May, and the team will assemble as always for offseason workouts. 

 

Except things didn’t unfold that way.  The summer brought people out together in large groups, many longing for freedom from Covid protocols.  The virus spread like wildfire.  Offseason workouts turned into virtual learning sessions.  No opportunity for Funchess to start catching passes from his new quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  No chance to begin the process of gaining trust and creating chemistry. 

 

By late July the NFL had cancelled preseason games.  Covid-19 was jamming hospitals and contributing to deaths at an alarming rate.  And for Devin Funchess, the threat got personal.  Members of his own family had been exposed.  As the deadline for opting out of the 2020 season approached, Funchess began weighing the risk of reporting to the team and possibly bringing the virus back to his already vulnerable family.  The alternative was to sit out the season, to cede an entire year to his teammates who were vying for the same job. 

 

On July 28, Funchess announced his agonizing decision on Instagram.   “Family is first.  Always has been.  Always will be”, the post read.  “In such unpredictable times, it’s been one of the constants on my mind as I’ve worked through one of the toughest decisions of my life.  My closest family members have experienced the life-threatening impact of Covid-19 firsthand, and for their and my own safety, I’ve decided to opt out of the coming NFL season.  This was not a decision I took lightly, but is what is best for my family and myself at this time.” 

 

Funchess had to know this was not just about missing one season.  He must have considered it might be the beginning of the end of his career, at least, his career with the Packers.  Green Bay went on to a 13-3 season and the NFC championship game without him.  Lazard and MVS established themselves as capable receivers and gained the trust of their quarterback, who went to them in several clutch situations.  The pecking order was established.   

 

Now this year everybody in the position group is back, with the prospect of the Packers drafting one or two more pass catchers this spring.  For Funchess, one has to wonder if the train has left the station for him, if his chances of making the squad, in the minds of the coaches, have dwindled.   Asked a few weeks ago if Funchess was in Green Bay’s plans for the coming year, General Manager Brian Gutekunst did not exactly give a ringing endorsement.  “We have had some contact with Devin about being part of our squad moving forward”, Gutey said.  Then, in his usual buttoned up, non-committal style, added “There’s a lot of moving pieces that kind of affect each other.  We’re working through all that.” 

 

Turns out, part of that contact the Packers had with Funchess was a request he take a $750,000 pay cut.  Funchess had to know it wasn’t really a request, that the Packers were prepared to move on if he refused. 

 

The former Michigan star knew what it was like to have his team move on without him.  It had happened after 2019 in Indianapolis.  Funchess had signed a huge one year, $13 million deal with the Colts, but in his very first game, he broke his collarbone.  He was eligible to be reactivated by late November, but the train had left the station.  The Colts declined to bring him back, choosing to sit him on injured reserve the remainder of the season, and then let him walk.  Funchess never had a chance.  The Colts had made up their mind. 

 

It was an unexpected turn to a career that seemed destined for stardom.  Funchess was a standout athlete for Harrison High School in Farmington Hills, Michigan.  He was a top prospect in football, basketball and track.  As a four star recruit, he turned down multiple college offers to stay home at Michigan where, by his sophomore season, he was already chosen as the best tight end in the Big Ten.  His size at 6’4” and his great athletic ability inspired his college coaches to switch him to wide receiver.  In his first game at his new position, he reeled in 7 passes for 95 yards and three touchdowns against Appalachian State.   

 

He went pro after his junior year, and Carolina took him in the second round, number 41 overall.  By his second year Funchess broke out with 63 catches for 840 yards and 8 touchdowns for a Panthers team that went to the Super Bowl, where it lost to Peyton Manning and the Broncos.  The following season, 2018, Funchess’ numbers dipped a bit as he missed two games.  That was followed by the Colts experience, and then the Packers opt out. 

 

So, after basically two years of absence, with his career possibly in the balance, Devin Funchess looks forward to finally being a Green Bay Packer.  He chose his family first, as most any of us would.  We will soon see if his football family now wants him back. 

 

 

 

 

 

-----------------------------------

Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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3 points

Comments (47)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
jeremyjjbrown's picture

April 05, 2021 at 06:39 am

Good luck Devin.

7 points
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scoonie_penn's picture

April 05, 2021 at 06:47 am

I didn't like Funchess coming out of Michigan. He was WAY over-drafted, was slow, not very quick and didn't run precise patterns. he went to carolina and was a non-factor most of his career there.. he went to Indy and did OK. Why GB wants this guy as their 4th or 5th WR when he's carries a higher cap $, has no ST ability and doesn't offer anything different than what they already have on the roster is a mystery to me. Is Gute trying to prove he's the smartest guy in the room again?

-10 points
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Coldworld's picture

April 05, 2021 at 07:39 am

Funchess would seem to me to be a logical fit for LaFleur’s system. Personally, I think it’s likely a much better fit for him too. He’s always been a tweener TE who was asked to be a number one or two perimeter receiver too often.

In fact, he has been much better over the middle. I see the fit with LaFleur as better than the one the Colts paid him 10 million for. He blocks as a receiver, has height. I think he fits well once one realizes he isn’t Adams, but then he isn’t paid to be. Good rotation piece.

As to speed, I expected him to be used as more if a move TE type coming out. That fitted his skill set—he was often discussed as the best TE in that draft. However, he was always going to play some receiver routes, I just think they moved him too far. As to speed, he ran a 4.48 at his pro day, so 4.5 for a 6’4”, 225 lbs player isn’t that slow. Adams ran a 4.56 by comparison, Lazard 4.55.

As to the 2 years without playing point generally, if an experienced player is healthy and has been working out, I really don’t see the issue as being if the magnitude I’ve seen cited here. Players don’t forget how to play football. Unless one is dealing with an aging vet, the body doesn’t decline markedly. This is different from a debilitating injury that keeps a player out and leaves lingering questions about the degree of recovery. Funchess was healthy last year.

So it’s down to him and how fit he has kept himself coming into the off season. If he has looked after himself I really don’t see much of an issue for him or similarly placed pros. Looking at the roster, he gives us another Lazard and can cover some of Tonyan’s roles. Good depth to have at worst. We really didn’t have it last year.

10 points
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Guam's picture

April 05, 2021 at 08:08 am

Many well made points CW. MLF's system likes big WRs that can block and Funchess fits perfectly. He can also provide some roster flexibility as a WR or move TE. I see Funchess as a better version of either ESB or Sternberger and able to play both roles.

The author made the point that Funchess's numbers dropped in Carolina, but failed to mention that his QB was Cam Newton. No WR has flourished with Newton as his QB (except maybe Steve Smith) and not even Belichek can get Newton to throw accurately. I think Funchess will enjoy playing with Rodgers.

8 points
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murf7777's picture

April 05, 2021 at 08:20 am

CW...good thoughts, I have similar ones as to how the Packers will use him. Hard to say how Indy would’ve as he only played one game. The reality is he had more production in his last year of playing with An average offense vs anyone of the Packers not named Adams. Also, I love that he has good values considering he put family first over Millions.

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

April 05, 2021 at 09:09 am

Indy’s coach described planned usage closer to how I think he would fit with us when he was signed by them. That’s what I was referencing.

0 points
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Leatherhead's picture

April 05, 2021 at 08:35 am

You’ve been on fire the last couple of days, Coldworld. Rational, reasoned assessments clearly stated.

Funchess fits what what we want from our #2-#3 WRs: He’s a big target. He can get guys blocked (many of Jones runs have benefited from our WR blocking ). He’s a veteran, so he’s not going to make the mistakes some hot shot rookie draft pick would.

Our WR corps is a seasoned group. Funchess is the only one who hasn’t had a hundred practices with Rodgers. I’d expect him to start training camp behind Adams, MVS, Lazard, and ESB, but as always, the people who stay healthy and play well move up on the depth chart.

0 points
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nostradanus's picture

April 05, 2021 at 07:14 am

Can’t blame the man for making a tough decision.

As for bringing him back at that price? Why not? Bring him to camp, let him compete, if he doesn’t cut it, cut him simple as that.

15 points
15
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Irish_Cheesehead's picture

April 05, 2021 at 07:32 am

Great player for Michigan. I liked him a lot coming out. I’ve followed him here in Michigan since his high school days. Tons of talent. Hopefully he can regain his form in 2021. Can’t hurt having Rodgers throwing him the ball. He will get his chances.

5 points
5
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Handsback's picture

April 05, 2021 at 07:59 am

He’s a big target that can block, and catch the ball over the middle. The bigger question remains to be answered...does he have another jump in performance or is he maxed out? If he has that extra capability, then the Packers hit pay dirt with him becoming a number 2 receiver. Otherwise, he will be in the mix as a number 3 or 4 receiver.
Hope he has another gear and proves to the NFL what his career looks like with a QB like Rodgers.

6 points
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murf7777's picture

April 05, 2021 at 08:28 am

I don’t think he needs to take another step up to be our number 2 man. If he puts up similar numbers as his second year, 63 catches for 840 yards and 8 touchdowns he will probably be #2. This contract is such a steal for his ability, I suspect many in the NFL with this production are being paid 8-10M.

1 points
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murf7777's picture

April 05, 2021 at 08:41 am

After further review of his advanced stats, One thing he does need to improve on is his 56% average catch rate over his past two full years. Is that because Cam was throwing him tough to catch balls or is it a problem. Rodgers puts up with less from MVS, but probably because of his big play ability. So, if he doesn’t improve in that area I suspect he won’t be #2 and more likely, fighting for a position. You have to catch the ball at a high % or Rodgers won’t trust you.

2 points
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dobber's picture

April 05, 2021 at 08:49 am

I've said this before, so I don't want to belabor it, but his analytics out of the slot were better than as an outside receiver. It could be that this is the MO: a big WR to mix in with Tonyan and others running routes out of the slot.

1 points
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Coldworld's picture

April 05, 2021 at 09:12 am

Agree with the caveat that rather than in the slot in the strict sense, over the middle. His stats improve dramatically over use as a perimeter player.

1 points
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Since'61's picture

April 05, 2021 at 08:19 am

I wish him well. He made the right decision for his family. I hope that he can return and become a contributor. Thanks, Since '61

4 points
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Bearmeat's picture

April 05, 2021 at 08:36 am

I'm not going to get political on CHTV. I come here for sports. But I must say that I believe the author postulates inaccurate points in paragraphs 3-4 about the spread of the virus and why it was so bad in the US compared to other countries.

Back to the Packers: I don't blame Devin for opting out. It's not the decision I personally would have made, but a man has to do what he thinks is best for his family. I wish him the best this upcoming year. We could certainly use him at WR, where we still lack reliable skill past Adams.

1 points
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bassrock's picture

April 05, 2021 at 08:48 am

Problem with this article is a blowhard speaking about nonsports things. Gush about the player and not the other crap we can get on MSM. Good luck to Devin. Hopefully can develop back into a great receiver for the Pack.

-1 points
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PF4L's picture

April 05, 2021 at 08:46 am

1.2 million received without playing a snap so far.

Not bad work if you can get it.

Reminds me of Cole Madison's career and earnings.

-2 points
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Coldworld's picture

April 05, 2021 at 09:14 am

His contract was deferred, so not paying twice. With the pay cut he took he became even more economical.

1 points
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PF4L's picture

April 05, 2021 at 11:17 am

Knowledge is your friend, my friend.
But only if you seek it out.
Class is in session

OTC.....
Funchess was paid a 1 million dollar signing bonus (they give you that when you sign), months later, he opted out. Kept the 1 million.
Players who opted out received $150,000 (Gas money, pocket change, etc)
Funchess received a $50,000 workout bonus, before he opted out.

My math is questionable sometimes, i'll give you that.
But by my calculations, Funchess has received 1.2 million, or $1,2000,000.00.
Which Over The Cap substantiates

But i will say this Coldworld....at least....at least you actually questioned my comments in text, instead of just being brain dead.

I respect that Sir and i look forward to someone refuting details of my comments with some degree of success, someday.

-3 points
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4
NickPerry's picture

April 06, 2021 at 05:25 am

"My math is questionable sometimes, i'll give you that.
But by my calculations, Funchess has received 1.2 million, or $1,2000,000.00.
Which Over The Cap substantiates"

Clearly questionable friend... I'm no math wizard either but doesn't $1.2 million look like THIS.....$1,200,000.00 and not like this 1,2000,000.00

-1 points
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PF4L's picture

April 06, 2021 at 12:13 pm

Really dude...lol
That's what your bringing?

Grow up.

-1 points
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PF4L's picture

April 06, 2021 at 10:26 pm

Sounds about right

0 points
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NickPerry's picture

April 07, 2021 at 05:57 am

That's what I'm bringing? Good one!

1 points
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PF4L's picture

April 07, 2021 at 06:30 pm

Yea....ya got me!!

Follow me around...i have typo's all the time.
You can really nail my A.. and show me who is boss :)

Hell, i'll even throw ya a bone for the effort.

-1 points
0
1
Leatherhead's picture

April 05, 2021 at 11:43 am

According to Spotrac, Funchess received 50K from the Packers in 2020. It was a workout bonus.

For 2021, he's only guaranteed 300K. That's his signing bonus. He has to actually make the team to make his 1.5 million salary. I see Adams, MSV, Lazard, and ESB as starting the season ahead of him, because they've actually played for us and have practiced with Rodgers 100s of times. So if Funchess is able to beat out some of these guys, that's a pretty cheap upgrade. And if he can't, he won't probably make the team.

5 points
5
0
flackcatcher's picture

April 05, 2021 at 04:01 pm

That is if the Packers sign Lazard. (yes, I think they will after the draft) And how will MLF update his scheme this year. Funchess could be a better fit than say a ErvIn type in certain slot packages. Just saying...

0 points
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Coldworld's picture

April 05, 2021 at 06:07 pm

Lazard just needs to sign. He’s exclusive rights so it’s that or not play. No real need till later

0 points
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Leatherhead's picture

April 05, 2021 at 08:26 pm

Matchups. If you keep putting 6’5” receivers into the pattern, somebody is going to end up being guarded by a guy who is smaller. Our smallest WR is Adams.

0 points
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PF4L's picture

April 07, 2021 at 07:24 pm

Coldworld....My apologies if my statement below is wrong.

Funchess deal is a convoluted puzzle that doesn't make any economical or business sense for the player.

Thegreatreynoldo made some points below that are hard to argue.

Again, if i'm wrong...and i might be, i'll always admit it....my bad.

0 points
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PeteK's picture

April 05, 2021 at 09:06 am

I would have signed Taylor Gabriel who also sat out 2020. We don't have a slot WR type on the roster. He caught 67 passes in 2018, 29 in 2019 ( injury filled season) and can run the ball with some success.

0 points
2
2
Coldworld's picture

April 05, 2021 at 09:21 am

My only reservation with him is that I’m wary of injured small slot types because of risk of repetition seems very high in that body type and speed/quickness is so essential and one of the attributes that injury can impact early. It’s very hard to take the impacts and shrug them off as a 170 type. That might be even more short lived a career than old fashioned bell cow back.

2 points
2
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jont's picture

April 05, 2021 at 07:38 pm

He's 5'7".
If we know one thing about MLF receivers, they are tall. At 6'1" Devante is the little guy. MLF wants WRs who can block.
(Funches is 6'4" and last year's corps is all 6'4"-6'5")

0 points
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Leatherhead's picture

April 05, 2021 at 08:28 pm

Yes,yes, and yes. Big receivers at WR..

0 points
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PeteK's picture

April 06, 2021 at 04:50 pm

Don't tell Austin and Ervin that>

0 points
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scullyitsme's picture

April 05, 2021 at 09:54 am

Nice to see some high on Fuchness. He’s already achieved more than MVS and Lazard combined and sat out a year. He’s number 2 early in camp.

-4 points
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KneelYoung's picture

April 05, 2021 at 10:02 am

Kind of thinking h won't be making the team at this time. Watched some film from 2 years ago and he never really seems to catch the ball on the run. So many plays with him falling after the catch or going down low and being stopped right where he caught it. Not much YAC there. Maybe it will be different in the preseason. Doubtful though.

1 points
2
1
CheesyTex's picture

April 05, 2021 at 10:08 am

I admire Funchess' commitment to family.

I'm hoping that commitment to family spilled over to an epiphany for him that he has the tools and the opportunity to cement a big bucks future for himself and his family. If he did realize that and spent the year driving himself to get in the best shape possible, to focus on his weak spots, to familiarize with LaF's O and #12"s game, and generally developed killer instinct, then it's still possible he's the answer at #2 and slot.

Maybe a year off gave him extra time for the body to heal and get his head straight.

OK, I know, but it's the season to get our hopes up and this would be about as big of a boost to the 53 as Yosh Nijman playing solid ball until Bak returns.

2 points
3
1
murf7777's picture

April 05, 2021 at 10:31 am

Another thing to consider is this is a one year prove it deal. With a career year, He’s still young enough to get big dollars. He will be highly motivated.

5 points
5
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canadapacker's picture

April 05, 2021 at 10:31 am

I hope that he comes in and can play in the middle - we do need a slot type of receiver - ie a bigger version oF Cobb. I would rather a big guy take some of those plays because when Adams is in the middle - it is scary. He must have had some skills to get the big payday from the Colts. He didnt fumble his two big years and while he only caught 60% of his targets - he was catching the ball from Newton whose accuracy is somewhat off. Hopefully he is a faster version of the Big Dog in certain schemes - ie blocking and leaking out down the middle. He also played in playoffs and even a Superbowl so that experience might be valued.

3 points
4
1
MarkinMadison's picture

April 05, 2021 at 12:01 pm

One thing is for sure - his body is probably better rested than it has been since he was about 12-years-old. If he got to work in January, if he's ready to go, in July, he will be playing for somebody. But Green Bay does feel crowded right now with a bunch of question marks after Adams, and no one under contract after this year. I'll be shocked if Green Bay doesn't extend Adams before July. After that, I don't think they even look at anyone else's contract until they see who they netting in the draft, and how they look in camp.

1 points
1
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PatrickGB's picture

April 05, 2021 at 01:42 pm

I live in SC and watched him play for the Panthers. He looked ok to me and I thought that a better QB could bring out the best in him. I think that he is better than ESB and would make for a good rotation WR. I could see him filling in nicely if Lazard were to go down. I also think that he is insanely cheap in today’s WR market. The only worry I have is that he might be a tad rusty.

4 points
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fastmoving's picture

April 05, 2021 at 02:32 pm

Brave guy. What else can you do but wish him well.
We dont need help at WR but Im sure he can still contribute.

1 points
2
1
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 06, 2021 at 06:36 am

I glossed over Funchess' contract information because it looks complicated. Indeed, it is murky. Here is what I think happened.

Funchess signed with GB on April 2 for $1.2M Base, a $1M "signing bonus" and a $250K Game Active Roster bonus plus a $50K workout bonus. That totals up to $2.5M but his cap number was $2.265M because he played just one game in 2019. He also had $3.75M in possible incentives. MLB canceled the remaining spring games and announced a delay to the season on March 2. The NBA was also dealing with Covid when Funchess signed.

Funchess was at high risk for Covid. That might explain why GB never paid his signing bonus. Usually (but not always), signing bonuses are paid immediately and are guaranteed. So, I'd guess there was some language in his contract delaying payment or making it contingent (though I've never heard of a contingent signing bonus - that's an oxymoron). Funchess earned his $50K workout bonus, so there was a signed contract. On July 24 the union and the NFL reached the agreement on opting out. Funchess opted out on July 28.

It appears that Funchess received the $350K stipend (source: OTC) allowed for high risk opt outs (plus the $50K W/O for a total of $400K received in cash). Stipends didn't count against the 2020 cap and were treated as advances that had to be repaid by the player in 2021 if they didn't make the roster that year and which were deducted from pay if the player did make the 2021 roster. OTC/Sportrac don't show those repayments since they don't affect the cap.

So, GB asks for a pay cut, but his base is only $1.2M and his minimum is $1.075M. Can't get much there. So, they reached an agreement cutting his cap number by $747K and the amount he can earn from $2.5M to $1.8M if he plays every game in 2021. That isn't remarkable. But the deal reduced his base by $75K, increased his Game Active by $50K, kept his W/O bonus the same, and reduced his signing bonus to $300K.

It is remarkable if the player cut his guaranteed money by $700K.

2 points
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PF4L's picture

April 07, 2021 at 07:15 pm

You might be right.

The numbers just made sense..1 mill signing, 150k Covid, 50k workout.

I thought i read that the 350k Covid was for players who actually had Covid.

Also, any Covid money he received comes from future earnings, so if your numbers are correct, if he didn't make the roster, he'd owe them 50K.

I just couldn't picture in what world the player didn't get his signing bonus when he signed...so i don't know.

But i know this.....this is a lot of drama for a guy with a target catch rate of 51.9% who hasn't played for 2 seasons. Sans 3 catches.

I think Funchess restructuring tells us something.....
If he refused to to restructure and collected his million.
Him and his agent must not feel their are teams interested in his services.

You are correct, giving up 700K guaranteed is mind boggling.
Especially considering they can just cut him. Which could very well happen.

0 points
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HankScorpio's picture

April 07, 2021 at 07:18 am

If Funchess makes the opening day roster, I will be disappointed.

0 points
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dobber's picture

April 07, 2021 at 07:20 am

...prepare yourself.

0 points
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