He seemed stable in that role before a 20-19 loss in his hometown of Detroit on Nov. 18 by which he’d five dropped passes.
That and also a back issue saw Funchess’ role drop significantly over the last six games. He sat out a loss to Seattle because of the back injury, subsequently had only three catches for 33 yards during the next 4 games. He had been a healthy scratch for its growing season finale at New Orleans. Writer Ron Rivera said that it had been”just a decision that I made” to get a better glance at Mose Frazier.
First-round pick DJ Moore acquired Funchess’ playing time down the stretch and became the No. 1 receiver as Carolina went with a faster, younger lineup that contained Moore and 2017 second-round pick Curtis Samuel.
The Panthers had high expectations for Funchess if then-general director Dave Gettleman chose the Michigan celebrity in the second round (41st overall) of the 2015 draft. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Funchess had been supposed to play opposite Kelvin Benjamin (6-5) and offer quarter back Cam Newton two large targets.
Funchess was forced to be Newton’s big receiver throughout the 2015 superbowl series when Benjamin suffered a season-ending ACL tear in training camp.
The Panthers traded Benjamin to Buffalo midway through the 2017 season and passed the No. 1 receiver job to Funchess, who’d a career-best 63 catches this season.
General manager Marty Hurney’s doctrine, assembled more around fast receivers that may stretch the area, was a stark comparison to Gettleman’s. Funchess also never looked to fit into the plot of offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who took last season.
ESPN’s David Newton contributed to the report.