One game in three years.
That’s what Green Bay Packers wide receiver Devin Funchess is facing from 2019 through 2021 today. On Wednesday, the Packers placed Funchess on injured reserve, ending his season or at least setting him for an injury settlement with the team that would keep him out for much of the year.
Funchess played in the Packers’ first preseason game this year, his first and only contest with the team after signing a one-year contract prior to the 2020 season. Funchess was the only Packers player to opt out last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and his contract tolled over into 2021. In that preseason contest, Funchess looked strong, leading the team with six receptions and 70 yards.
However, Funchess suffered a hamstring injury during one of the Packers’ joint practices with the New York Jets last week and had to be carted off the field. He has not participated in practice since, and now he is being shut down.
Given the nature of his ailment, an injury settlement seems like a plausible scenario. That would allow Funchess to get paid while he rehabilitates and to catch on with an NFL team later on in the season. After opting out last season, Funchess renegotiated his contract this spring, giving up $1 million in signing bonus money and nearly $4 million of incentives, a sign that the Packers had intended to release him if he did not agree to the pay cut. The settlement would work out well for both sides if Funchess feels he will be able to play later this season, as it will clear much of his base salary off the Packers’ books while affording him the chance to catch on elsewhere in the fall.
Along with Funchess going to injured reserve, the Packers made three other transactions at the lower levels of the roster. The team opened up a second spot on the 80-man active roster by releasing fellow wide receiver Chris Blair. The undrafted rookie did not play in either of the first two preseason games and did not appear to be under serious consideration for a spot on the active roster or practice squad.
Green Bay then filled their two open spots by signing a pair of defensive players, both of whom were at one point employed by the Chicago Bears. One is cornerback Stephen Denmark, a seventh-round pick by Chicago in 2019. Denmark has not played in an NFL game, instead spending time on the Bears’ and Cleveland Browns’ practice squads over the last two years and spending the 2021 offseason with the Pittsburgh Steelers before his release a week ago. The other new arrival is defensive end Abdullah Anderson, who played in seven games over the past two seasons with Chicago and the Minnesota Vikings. Anderson also was with the Steelers during training camp and was released last week with Denmark when the team cut down from 90 to 85 players.
Both of these players may have a slim opportunity to impress and land a spot on the Packers’ practice squad. More likely, however, they will be bodies to take snaps for the Packers during the third and final preseason game in Buffalo on Saturday.
With these moves, the Packers remain at 80 players on the active roster and will need to make 27 cuts by next Tuesday, August 31st.