Lions notes: Detroit signs Devin Funchess as tight end; Golden Tate to play baseball
Allen Park — With two young players sidelined by injury, the Detroit Lions added some depth at tight end on Tuesday, signing former Farmington Hills Harrison and University of Michigan standout Devin Funchess.
A second-round pick in 2015, Funchess spent his first four seasons with the Carolina Panthers. Appearing in 62 games for the franchise, he caught 161 passes for 2,233 yards and 21 touchdowns. His best campaign came in his third year, when he hauled in 63 balls for 840 and eight scores.
Funchess signed a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts ahead of the 2019 season, but appeared in just one game with the team after breaking his collarbone early in the season.
That was the last time Funchess appeared in an NFL game, opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns and suffering a season-ending hamstring injury while with the Packers last season. He also briefly spent some time on the 49ers' practice squad in 2021.
Funchess started his Michigan career as a tight end before converting to receiver his junior season, earning second-team, all-conference honors from Big Ten coaches that year.
Listed as a receiver his previous NFL stops, the Lions are moving the 6-foot-4 Funchess back to tight end. He was most recently listed as weighing 225 pounds.
Detroit is in need of depth at the position heading into training camp, as fifth-round draft pick James Mitchell continues to rehab from an ACL tear suffered last season and undrafted rookie Derrick Deese Jr. has been sidelined by an undisclosed ailment.
Golden Tate to try baseball
Former Lions wide receiver Golden Tate is also switching positions, and sports, signing on to play outfield for the Port Angeles Lefties of the West Coast League.
“I am extremely thankful to the West Coast League and the Port Angeles Lefties for allowing me to join their league,” Tate said in a statement released by the league. “As some might know, I was drafted twice in baseball. As a child, my first love was baseball, so I’m excited about the opportunity to compete against some of the best young players in the league. I look forward to having a lot of fun and exploring baseball more.”
The 33-year-old Tate played 11 seasons in the NFL, last suiting up for the New York Giants in 2020. Drafted the Seattle Seahawks in 2010, he won a Super Bowl with the franchise before signing with the Lions as a free agent in 2014. In 4½ seasons in Detroit, he enjoyed his greatest individual success, racking up 416 of his 695 career catches for 4,741 yards and 22 touchdowns, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2014.
As Tate noted, he was twice selected in the MLB draft, going in the 42nd round to the Arizona Diamondbacks out of high school. Three years later, despite not playing baseball the previous collegiate season, the San Francisco Giants selected him in the 50th round. As a sophomore at Notre Dame, Tate batted .329.
“We’re looking forward to Golden joining the Lefties,” team owner Matt Acker said. “Having an elite athlete around, one who’s competed on the world’s biggest sports stage, is special. His passion for this sport, plus his competitiveness, work ethic, humility, and desire will be contagious to our players and opponents. We see this as a unique opportunity for the Port Angeles Lefties, the West Coast League, and for Golden.”