Devin Funchess' encouraging preseason has met an unfortunate early finish.
The Packers released Funchess with an injury settlement on Friday, two days after they placed him on injured reserve. The receiver is now a free agent as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
If Funchess is unable to return to the field with another squad, it'll be a third straight lost season for the 6-foot-4 receiver who saw his promising time with Indianapolis end due to a broken collarbone in early September 2019, then signed with Green Bay before opting out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With most of Green Bay's top pass catchers spending the first week of the preseason on the sideline, Funchess became a favorite target of second-year quarterback Jordan Love in the receiver's lone game. Funchess caught six passes for 70 yards, displaying the physical ability that could have helped him find a role in the Packers' offense.
The following week, Funchess injured his hamstring during joint practices with the New York Jets. He hasn't participated in any fashion since then, and Wednesday's news realized his worst fears.
Funchess last saw significant action as a member of the Carolina Panthers, the team that selected him in the second round of the 2015 draft out of Michigan. Seen as a player somewhere between a receiver and tight end, Funchess found success as a bigger-bodied wideout who could box out defenders and use his large wingspan to haul in passes.
He became a favorite target of former Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, teaming with the one-time MVP to post a career-best season of 63 catches for 840 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017. Funchess also played an important role in Carolina's offensive explosion in 2015, catching 31 passes for 473 yards and five scores as a rookie in a season in which the Panthers won the NFC title and appeared in Super Bowl 50.
Three straight lost years could spell the end of Funchess' time in the NFL, but if he is still pursuing employment in pro football in 2022, he'll at least have his tape from Green Bay's preseason opener against Houston to provide as proof he can still play.