The Packers can cut him and save some immediate salary cap space, or they can keep him around and see what they really have in an experienced player they thought could contribute in the passing game in 2020.
Here’s a breakdown of the future of Funchess in Green Bay this season:
– Funchess is under contract in 2021 at $2,365,625. The Packers can save all but $1 million of that number by releasing him.
– The Packers are up against the cap and probably won’t have much wiggle room for chasing after veteran wide receivers in free agency. Funchess is under contract at a reasonable number and at least has some baseline knowledge of what the Packers are doing offensively.
– Funchess is only 26, but he hasn’t played in a game since early September of 2019. By Week 1 of this coming season, he’ll have been away from the game for almost two full years. Who knows where he is at physically. The Packers will want to know before making a decision, but that could be tricky with the offseason likely going virtual again.
– There’s really no cost in holding onto Funchess and getting a chance to see what they have during training camp, although it’s possible the team wants the cap savings before the start of the new league year. Putting together this salary cap puzzle has a lot of moving parts.
– With so many veterans likely to be cut over the next month, it’s possible the Packers could find a bargain at receiver. Selling a half-decent receiver on the opportunity to play one season with Aaron Rodgers at a discount rate probably wouldn’t be tough.
– It’s fair to wonder if Funchess would be redundant at this point. This isn’t a team lacking a big, physical receiver. Allen Lazard is more than capable of anything the Packers would ask of Funchess. But this was also true last spring. Maybe Matt LaFleur had something more specific in mind for the veteran.
– Rodgers expressed some real excitement about playing with Funchess last spring.
– Where does he fit? That’s not really a concern right now, and the Packers would get training camp to determine his fit, but it’s certainly unclear currently. The Packers will be bringing back all their top receivers from last season, and they’ll likely add at least one or two during the draft – especially given the contract situations at the position past 2021. At best, he might be the fourth or fifth receiver on the roster, which could be a hard sell for a veteran who isn’t going to contribute on special teams.
– Funchess has played in 62 career games. That experience might be valuable during another potentially virtual offseason, and especially given the constraints on the draft process. Rookie receivers can be very productive right away, even in this environment (see: 2020 season), but they are still no guarantee. Then again, Funchess hasn’t played football since 2019 and is just as much of a toss up at this point.
– I can see why the Packers would keep him around, at least through training camp. He’s been away from football for a long time, but cutting him doesn’t provide a big chunk of immediate savings, he’s under contract at a reasonable number for a veteran receiver and the Packers are probably still interested in seeing what he can do with Rodgers in this offense. If the Packers know he’s in shape and ready to roll this offseason, giving him one more shot might be the best course. Then again, I’d also consider him somewhat of a long shot to make the team coming out of training camp, so who knows. Maybe the Packers can find a better fit at a better price during this uncertain offseason. Saving the money now to help get under the cap makes sense, especially if a few cheap rookie receivers are coming.
– What would I do? Cut him, and then trust my pro and college scouting staff to find both the following: First, a veteran who has played more than one game in the last two years and wants to play with Rodgers at a big discount for one year; and second, a rookie to draft and develop and have ready by 2022, when the receiver position starts looking a little shaky.
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