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After four solid seasons catching (and sometimes dropping) balls from quarterback Cam Newton for the Carolina Panthers, wide receiver Devin Funchess has just signed with the Indianapolis Colts and will become Andrew Lucks second main target, and a big one at that.
The Colts have more salary cap than any other franchise, so its likely the Funchess signing wont be the only move general manager Chris Ballard will make this offseason, especially after his teams Super Bowl run was stopped short last season by the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Playoffs.
With Funchess on the roster, Luck now has a legitimate midfield threat he can play off speedy deep threat T.Y. Hilton, and so we take a look at this trade, its impact on the Colts and the odds and predictions of Funchess 2019 production.
Devin Funchess is the 24-year-old wide receiver born to Felicia Fields and Darryl Funchess in Farmington Hills, Michigan, which is in the northwestern suburbs of Metropolitan Detroit and is about 30 miles northeast of downtown Ann Arbor.
Funchess was a three-sport standout at Harrison High School, where he played basketball, track and was a dual-threat football star at wide receiver and tight end.
Big for a receiver, Funchess stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 230-pounds (he was 205-pounds in high school) and after leading his Harrison Hawks to the Michigan Division II state championship his junior year in 2010 and being made a coveted Detroit News Blue Chip Player his senior year in 2011, the four-star recruit committed to the University of Michigan.
Funchess ended up playing at Michigan for three seasons as both a tight end and a wide receiver, and he saw extensive playing time starting his first year when he caught 15 balls in 13 games for 234 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging 15.6 yards per catch.
His production picked up his sophomore season, when Funchess caught 49 passes for 748 yards and 6 touchdowns, averaging 15.3 yards per catch, and he was named as Big Tens Tight End of the year.
At the end of Funchess junior season in 2014, after playing in eleven Wolverine games and catching 62 balls for 733 yards and 4 touchdowns, averaging 11.8 yards per catch, he announced that he would forgo his remaining college eligibility and declared for the NFL Draft.
Funchess was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the second round of the 2015 NFL draft with the 41st pick overall.
The Panthers signed him to a four-year, $5.52 million contract with a $2.275 million signing bonus and with $2.961 guaranteed.
For Funchess first four years in the NFL, his average salary was $1.38 million.
Surprisingly for a big man, Funchess is known for his precise route running, the result of having fluid hips and good body control, and as being able to use his size to create separation at the beginning and the top of his routes.
The main complaint about Funchess is his lack of vertical speed and his tendency to drop a lot of balls, which is a result of poor technique, letting the ball hit him in the chest instead of using his hands to bring the football in to his torso.
Funchess is a great size mismatch, especially on intermediate routes and his ability to transition smoothly from catch to run makes him dangerous after the reception.
Funchess has been a solid midfield target for Carolina quarterback Cam Newton.
In four seasons, Funchess has caught 161 balls for 2,233 yards and 21 touchdowns, averaging 13.9 yards per catch.
But heres where his big weakness kicked in last season, Funchess had 11 dropped passes and a drop rate of 13.9 percent, both of which led the league for wide receivers, though in 2017 he only had 5 drops overall, which ranked 40th.
The Colts had a lack of depth at wide receiver, and Funchess is the first step towards filling that need.
With Funchess size and big-play making ability, he will be an effective target in the Red Zone, and a constant counter to T.Y. Hiltons blazing speed.
The Colts will need a more effective offense to get past high-scoring AFC rivals like the Kansas City Chiefs, the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Colts signed Funchess to a one-year deal that is worth a maximum of $13 million.
Funchess will receive $10 million of that guaranteed, and there are $3 million worth of incentives added on.
After the 2019 season, Funchess will once again be a free agent unless Indianapolis decides to either extend his current contract or offer him a longer-term deal.
Right now, judging by his online reaction to the trade and his one-year pay bump of at least $8.6 million in 2018 (before incentives), Funchess seems understandably happy about the deal and ready to get to work.
Monday on Twitter, Funchess gave a quick hint as to how he feels about being on the Indianapolis Colts roster now, saying:
Ring talk lets eat ??
Devin Funchess (@D_FUNCH) March 12, 2019
And he let loose another tweet a few hours later that said:
Thank you lord! ??
Devin Funchess (@D_FUNCH) March 12, 2019
Success on his new team isnt guaranteed, though, it will depend on how often Luck targets the giant receiver, and of those passes, how many of them Funchess can actually pull in and hang onto.
With every big breaking NFL news story, there are, of course, odds and predictions given for a few futures that seem applicable.
In the case of Funchess, theyve offered odds on his total yards and touchdowns, both as over/under bets.
Never gamble what you dont have, but depending on how you feel about Funchess ability to make big plays, these odds might not be a bad way to spend a bit of your bettin kitty.
For this wager, you have to keep in mind that over his four years in the NFL, Funchess has averaged 558 receiving yards per season, his best year being 2017 when he caught passes for 840 total yards.
Last season his total receiving yards were 549, though, and his first two seasons were also both below the prediction of 650.5, with Funchess catching for 473 yards in 2015 and for 371 yards in 2016.
This bet depends on whether Funchess is used more effectively and more often in Indianapolis than he was in Carolina.
Before you make this bet, it would be good to know how many touchdowns Funchess has averaged over the last four seasons, and thats 5.25 touchdowns.
But just like in the previous bet, these odds are a bit skewed thanks to Funchess big season in 2017, when he caught for 8 total touchdowns.
Two of his other three seasons were below the prediction of 4.5 touchdowns, with Funchess posting just four scores in 2016 and 2018, but with 5 touchdowns in 2015.
The Indianapolis Colts offense failed them as much as their defense did against the Kansas City Chiefs during the Divisional Playoff game when they lost the game 31-13.
Adding a large, mid-range target like Devin Funchess to the roster is a solid step in the right direction, but Ballard and company will have to use the draft and free agency and their large cap space to add a few more pieces to the puzzle, like a tight end and a whole lot of defensive firepower.
But Funchess seems to have the right attitude, as should anyone playing at the NFL level, when he told the media recently:
“I’m ready to play and ready to get a Super Bowl.”
But chances are thats the same way every other NFL player feels right about now, and it will take another football season in 2019 to find out who really means what they are saying.
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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