One of the bigger stories out of the first two weeks of Organized Team Activities for the Green Bay Packers has been the absence of the team’s wide receiver corps. The team’s presumed top five receivers — Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Devin Funchess — all chose not to report for the first two weeks of practice, which are voluntary.
Of that group, only two are sacrificing any money by choosing not to report over these past two weeks. Davante Adams has a $500,000 workout bonus in his contract for 2021, while Funchess has $50,000 in his, but both players have forfeited those amounts with their decision not to participate in OTAs.
Furthermore, none of the five players have spoken publicly on the reasons for their OTA absence, leaving fans to wonder if the group coordinated the plan and, if so, for what reason. Is the goal to express solidarity with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, to call attention to the NFLPA’s goal of moving to an all-virtual offseason, or something else? With no public comments from the group, fans, the media, and even coaches are left in the dark.
However, the absence is coming to an end. On Friday morning, Funchess became the first of this group to speak publicly, tweeting that he will be in Green Bay on Monday to participate in minicamp
With players subject to fines up to about $100,000 if they skip minicamp, this was always the most likely scenario. Now, with one member of the group returning, it would be a surprise if any the rest of the team’s receiving corps chose not to join Funchess in returning to Green Bay. Hopefully the team will make a few of those players available to the media so they can clarify what statement, if any, they were trying to make by not reporting for OTAs.
On Thursday, wide receivers coach Jason Vrable illustrated the team’s lack of information about the receivers’ absence from voluntary workouts in his press conference with the media. Vrable revealed that the wideouts had participated in all of the “Phase 1” activities, which consisted of virtual meetings with the coaching staff, before going dark at the start of OTA practices around May 25th. Their absence that week seemingly came as a surprise to him and to the rest of the staff. “There’s been no talk of (a coordinated effort) with me,” Vrable said, but next week may be an opportunity for the players to illuminate the situation.
For Funchess, next week’s minicamp will be the first time he actually steps foot on the Packers’ practice field. Funchess signed a one-year contract in April 2020, but last year’s offseason program was fully virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funchess then opted out of the 2020 season on the day the Packers reported for training camp in late July, choosing to sit out the year in an effort to help protect his family.