Veteran wide receiver Devin Funchess has added a little more fame to his name ahead of his first training camp with the Green Bay Packers later this July.
Funchess snagged himself a world record on Tuesday when a caught a football that was dropped out of a helicopter from 750 feet in the air, completing his legendary feat at Empower Field in Denver in conjunction with the charity group Global Field Day. To make things more impressive, the 27-year-old wideout was also wearing flip-flops while making his catch.
Funchess will head into training camp on July 27 looking to win a roster spot with Packers nearly 16 months after signing his initial contract in April 2020. While he guaranteed himself a chance when he took a $750,000 pay cut back in March, there is still the question of how he will perform given he has not played a regular-season snap since the first game of the 2019 season.
Funchess could give the Packers an edge in the receiving game if he bounces back into form in 2021. He caught 161 passes for 2,233 yards and 21 touchdowns during his first four seasons with the Carolina Panthers and is still young enough to be considered in his prime despite his injury history. The real question is whether Funchess will be able to rise above the young competition once camp arrives.
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Which WRs Pose Biggest Threat to Funchess?
The Packers appear to have four solid locks at wide receiver with the first camp practice less than two weeks away: Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Allen Lazard and third-round rookie Amari Rodgers. The other eight wideouts on their roster — including Funchess — could all find themselves on the outside looking in come September.
If there is a fifth roster spot to be won, Funchess should have an advantage over the rest of the pack. He has played far more NFL reps than anyone else on the team, including 2020 active-roster members Malik Taylor and Equanimeous St. Brown. His decision to take a pay cut could also earn him the benefit of the doubt since Green Bay has never truly gotten to see what he can bring to the table.
There are still some concerns, however, when it comes to his durability. He did not attend the team’s voluntary OTA practices earlier this spring and, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, had to drop out of one of the team’s three mandatory minicamp practices after getting banged up on a play.
“He sure looks the part, there’s no doubt about that,” LaFleur said of Funchess in June. “You’re talking about a big, strong, long, physical guy that can run and sink his hips. I know he has a lot to learn, but we’re excited about having him on this team and letting him go compete, and we’ll see what he can do.”
Could Funchess Become Cap Casualty?
One thing potentially working against Funchess is his contract cost. While he did take a significant pay cut to ensure he would make it to camp, the Packers could still save a little more than $1.2 million if they left him off their initial 53-man roster in September. It might not seem like much, but it could become important as they start answering several other key financial questions.
According to Over the Cap, the Packers have about $5.084 million in cap space at the moment with the third-round Rodgers still unsigned and expected to eat up a little bit more before the season begins. That’s not much, especially considering they still have to sign their practice squad and factor in the 52nd and 53rd player contracts into the equation.
One way or another, the Packers will need to create savings. Reaching a new agreement with either Aaron Rodgers or Adams are two possible solutions that would avoid losing talent, but the reality is roster cuts are the more practical route to cutting costs. Should even one among Taylor, St. Brown, Juwann Winfree, DeAndre Thompkins, Reggie Begelton, Chris Blair and Bailey Gaithers outside Funchess, it could leave him looking for a new job this fall.