When the Detroit Lions signed former Michigan star Devin Funchess in the spring, it created quite a buzz amongst the fan base. Despite only having one practice with the Lions under his belt, the upside of adding a player that was once a dominating wide receiver/tight end just down the road in Ann Arbor was very appealing.
But there are some red flags that Funchess brings with him to Detroit that illustrate he will have to earn his way onto the 53-man roster.
First, he played tight end at the beginning of his career at the University of Michigan but transitioned to wide receiver in 2014 and has been at that position since. Now, eight years later he is making the transition back to tight end and there is sure to be a learning curve at the beginning of training camp.
Second, Funchess hasn’t played in an NFL game since September of 2019. Funchess broke his collarbone in the Colts’ opening game that season and was placed on injured reserve. He signed with the Packers during the 2020 offseason then opted out due to COVID-19 concerns. Still with Green Bay in 2021, Funchess’ lingering hamstring injury landed him on injured reserve during training camp. He was eventually released and signed onto the 49ers practice squad, but he only lasted two weeks there before being released. His next stop was Detroit, six months later.
And that brings us to his one-year contract with the Lions. While he signed in June, his contract details just became available at OverTheCap.com and they further indicate that he isn’t guaranteed anything, both figuratively and literally. Let’s take a look at the details:
Base salary: $1.035 million (veteran minimum)
Signing bonus: $0
Guaranteed money: $0
2022 Cap hit: $895,000 (veteran discount)
This contract is a win-win for the Lions. If a return to tight end is exactly what Funchess needs to find success in the NFL, then they could potentially get a matchup weapon with unique athleticism at a minimal cost. If the transition doesn't work out, there is no penalty for giving him a shot. Detroit can cut him with no cap cost.
Bottom line: The Lions have created an opportunity, but it’s all up to Funchess now.