While it would appear that the regime at the top of the football side of the Carolina Panthers will be staying on through 2019 with reports surfacing this week that both Marty Hurney and Ron Rivera’s jobs are safe, other changes are not waiting until the offseason to make themselves known as the Panthers have announced that wide receiver Devin Funchess is one of their seven inactives for the final game of the 2018 season.
Funchess was not on the injury report this week.
Funchess, whose contract is up at the end of the season and is not expected to re-sign, has missed only two games in his four-year career with Carolina, both due to injury – one of those was the Panthers Week 12 loss to the Seattle Seahawks this season with a back injury – but is a healthy scratch for Week 17 in New Orleans.
The 24 year-old has 161 receptions, 2233 yards and 21 touchdowns in four seasons with the Panthers.
The 41st overall pick in the 2015 draft was anointed as the Panthers ‘X’ receiver midway through last season when the team dealt former first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills for a third and seventh-round pick in the 2018 Draft, which the Panthers used to draft safety Rashaan Gaulden and linebacker Andre Smith – Funchess registered 30 catches for 483 yards and five touchdowns over the final eight weeks of the season and entered 2018 with high hopes but after beginning the season with four touchdowns in the first seven games of the season, has had only 15 catches for 175 yards and a single score since Week 8, including in Detroit when he dropped multiple passes as the Panthers lost 20-19.
Funchess leads the Panthers in drops this season with seven; he’s had 25 since he came into the league in 2015, by far the most among Panthers wide receivers over that time span.
The former Michigan wide receiver, who had led the wideouts in playing time through that game in Detroit, has seen his snap counts steadily decline over the past month, culminating in playing only 11 snaps in the Panthers’ Monday Night Football loss in Week 15 – Funchess had zero catches on four targets in Weeks 14 & 15 and two of those targets resulted in interceptions.
The Panthers are expected to start DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel at wide receiver against the Saints.