Packers Wide Receiver Opts Out of 2020 Season Due to COVID-19

Funchess Opt-Out

Getty Head coach Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers looks on in the first quarter of a game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 29, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan.

One of the Green Bay Packers’ only signings from this year’s free agency period will not be joining the team for the 2020 NFL season.

Packers wide receiver Devin Funchess — who signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the team in March — announced Tuesday night on Instagram his decision to opt-out of the 2020 season due to health concerns about COVID-19, explaining he will “always” put family first.

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“My closest family members have experienced the life-threatening impact of COVID-19 firsthand and for their and my own safety, I’ve decided to opt-out of the upcoming NFL season,” Funchess wrote in his Instagram post. “This was not a decision I took lightly, but it’s what is best for my family and myself at this time.”

Funchess, 26, signed with the Packers earlier this offseason after missing essentially the entire 2019 season with a clavicle injury he suffered during the Indianapolis Colts’ season opener. He spent four seasons prior with the Carolina Panthers and caught 164 passes for 2,265 yards and 21 touchdowns, making him a prime candidate for second or third on the Packers’ depth chart behind star Davante Adams.

Now, the Packers must find a way to improve their receiving room — which struggled to produce a reliable second option for quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 2019 — without much change in personnel. Funchess was among the only new wide receivers added during the offseason along with CFL standout Reggie Begelton and undrafted free agent Darrell Stewart Jr.

Funchess is the first Packers player to opt-out of the 2020 season, but he might not the last with several more NFL players announcing their decisions to forgo the upcoming season on Tuesday. The deadline for players to opt-out of 2020 is Aug. 3.

“I can’t thank the Packers organization enough for their understanding and for giving me the opportunity to be a part of one of the most storied franchises in the league,” Funchess continued. “I look forward to getting back to work with them next season.”

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What Does Opt-Out Mean for Funchess, Packers?

Funchess may have opted out of the upcoming season for the Packers, but that doesn’t mean he will no longer factor into their plans for the future. He will just have to wait until 2021.

NFL players who voluntarily opt out of the 2020 season — players who are either under contract or subject to tender — will have their contracts toll and apply to the following year; though, without accruing a season. In other words, Funchess’ one-year deal will now cover the 2021 season, but he will make the same amount of money.

The NFL would normally offer a $150,000 stipend to a low-risk player such as Funchess for choosing to sit out the upcoming season, but Funchess is not eligible to receive any stipend or salary advance since he did not earn a credited season in 2019.

According to salary cap guru Ken Ingalls, Funchess’ $1 million signing bonus and first $50,000 workout bonus will hit the cap in 2020, but his voluntary opt-out will see his $1.2 million base salary and second $50,000 workout bonus carry over onto next year’s cap.

Meanwhile, the Packers will be looking to get much more out of their returning group of wide receivers now that Funchess is out of the 2020 picture. Begelton might be able to challenge for a roster spot, but the pressure to fill the production void below Adams will now fall on guys like Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Jake Kumerow and Equanimeous St. Brown.

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