The Colts will sign wide receiver Devin Funchess to a one-year, $13 million deal when free agency opens tomorrow.
The shorter the term of the deal, the more manageable the downside, so even if Funchess is a bust, the Colts will only experience a small ding as a consequence.
The upside is dependent upon Funchess reverting to his 2017 form when he caught 63 passes for 840 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s kind of an anti-T.Y. Hilton in that he is tall (6’4″), slow (4.7 in the 40 at the combine), and the owner of occasionally balky hands.
Funchess does his best work in the red zone, which will give the Colts another matchup nightmare in tight areas.
This signing shows the wisdom Colts GM Chris Ballard brings to bear in making big boy decisions – even when he has the deepest pockets in the NFL – as he does this offseason with a reported $105 million of cap money to spend.
Ballard is a process guy, and the Colts process does not involve investing big money long term in an asset as difficult to predict as an NFL free agent.
The problem with spending big money over a long term on a free agent is that the player’s previous employer made the decision not to invest in him at that level for some reason. Why would the new team believe it knows more about a guy than the old team?
Colts fans know how the other end of this stick works. Former GM Ryan Grigson spent big bucks over a long term on guys like Gosder Cherilus, Art Jones, LaRon Landry, Donald Thomas, and others. Most busted, and the franchise cratered.
Mistakes in free agency will happen, but managing liability is the key to continuing consistent success.
Losing assets because of poor financial planning is NFL managerial malpractice, and Ballard is resolved to never painting the Colts into that corner of shame.
Specific to Funchess, he was a drop machine his first two seasons, and was unreliable in year four. But in his third season, Funchess was really good – catching 67 balls on 117 targets with only three drops.
A one-year prove-it deal with a quarterback like Andrew Luck might be the tonic Funchess needs to return to his 2017 form as a very productive number two wide receiver.
If not, he’s $13M poorly spent during a season when the Colts aren’t spending to the cap anyway.
Ballard’s a smart guy.