Life Moves on Without Funchess
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Devin Funchess’ decision to opt out of the 2020 season leaves the Green Bay Packers with mostly the same underperforming receiver corps as last season.
Funchess, who was general manager Brian Gutekunst’s biggest addition at the position, cited his family in deciding not to play this season. His one-year contract will move to 2021.
“Obviously, we support Devin,” Gutekunst said during a pre-training camp Zoom call on Sunday. “All of our players are going through some really tough situations, tough choices they have to make with their families. I really appreciate how he handled that situation with us, but it’s really no different than any other year. You lose players for different reasons – injuries and such. It’s just kind of a daily evaluation of where your team’s at and trying to improve it.”
Other than Canadian import Reggie Begelton, the Packers didn’t make any noteworthy additions at a position beset by inconsistent play opposite Davante Adams last season. Having bypassed a deep draft class of draft prospects, any improvement will have to come from within the returning group that includes Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown.
“We’re expecting everybody to step up,” coach Matt LaFleur said during his Zoom call. “What’s so great is these guys have a year under their belt in our scheme and they’ve had a really productive offseason. Although they haven’t been in the building, I feel like the meetings have gone very, very well. It’s going to be great to get EQ back in the fold; that certainly hurt us last year. We do have a lot of confidence in our receiving corps and they’re going to have to take that next step for us to be as productive as we’d like to be this coming fall.”
There’s probably no choice other than rolling with that group. There are no immediate difference-makers available in free agency. And with the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out the preseason, there will be no game tape for Gutekunst and his pro scouts to study when teams cut their rosters to 53 players in about a month. Thus, any additions will be because of their college tape. While Gutekunst could land a player he likes in that fashion, he’d be starting from scratch in learning the offense.
“I wouldn’t say we’re any more active than we ever have been in looking for help at any position,” Gutekunst said.