Dec 23, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess (17) catches a pass in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Packers undecided on WR Devin Funchess’ future

Jan 3, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a pass against the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Packers are unsure whether wide receiver Devin Funchess will be back with the team in 2021.

Neither offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett nor general manager Brian Gutekunst showed their hand on Wednesday via Packers.com when asked about the 26-year-old’s future with the team.

Funchess opted out of the 2020 season.

“We’ll find out,” Hackett said Tuesday regarding Funchess’ status with the team. “If he’s here, we’ll be excited to have him here, and see what he can do and move forward from there.”

Gutekunst added, “We have had some contact with Devin (about) possibly being a part of our squad moving forward. There’s a lot of different pieces that kind of affect each other. We’re working through all that.”

Because Funchess opted out, his contract tolled to 2021.

Funchess played his first four seasons with the Carolina Panthers before playing one game with the Indianapolis Colts in 2019.

The former Michigan Wolverine has 164 career receptions for 2,265 yards and 21 touchdowns in 62 games (41 starts).

His best season came in 2017 with the Panthers when he established career bests of 63 catches, 840 yards and eight scores.

–Field Level Media

Jan 24, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws the ball during the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers head to Super Bowl with NFC title win over Packers

Tom Brady passed for three touchdown passes and will be returning to the Super Bowl for the 10th time after helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat the host Green Bay Packers 31-26 in the NFC Championship on Sunday afternoon.

Shaquil Barrett recorded three sacks and Jason Pierre-Paul added two as the Buccaneers built a 17-point lead en route to reaching the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history. Tampa Bay also reached the big game in the 2002 season and walloped the then-Oakland Raiders 48-21 for its only Super Bowl title.

The Buccaneers will become the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium with the game set for Feb. 7 in Tampa, Fla.

Brady completed 20 of 36 passes for 280 yards and survived three second-half interceptions. Cameron Brate, Mike Evans and Scotty Miller caught touchdown passes, Leonard Fournette rushed for a score and Jordan Whitehead forced two fumbles before departing with a left shoulder injury.

Aaron Rodgers completed 33 of 48 passes for 346 yards, three touchdowns and one interception for the Packers. Davante Adams, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Robert Tonyan caught touchdown passes and Jaire Alexander had two interceptions.

Green Bay reached the Tampa Bay 8-yard line late in the game but questionably settled for Mason Crosby’s 26-yard field goal with 2:05 left to move within five points. The Buccaneers got the ball back and picked up three first downs while running out the clock.

Brady improved to 10-4 in conference championship games, while Rodgers dropped his fourth straight to fall to 1-4.

Green Bay experienced a devastating sequence over the final 34 seconds of the first half to trail 21-10 at the break.

The Packers were down four and facing second-and-18 from their own 32-yard line when Rodgers was intercepted by Sean Murphy-Bunting.

The turnover became costly when Miller sped past Green Bay’s Kevin King and Brady connected with him from 39 yards out with one second left to account for the 11-point halftime advantage.

More misfortune occurred on the Packers’ initial possession of the third quarter. Aaron Jones caught a short pass, but Whitehead dislodged the ball at the Green Bay 32 and teammate Devin White (15 tackles) recovered it at the 29 and ran 21 yards to the 8.

On the ensuing play, Brady tossed an 8-yard scoring pass to Brate to make it 28-10 just 66 seconds into the second half.

Rodgers threw an 8-yard scoring pass to Tonyan with 9:28 left to cut the Tampa Bay lead to 11. Adrian Amos then intercepted Brady and the Packers cashed in with Rodgers hitting Adams on a 2-yard scoring pass to pull within 28-23 with 24 seconds left in the stanza.

Alexander picked off Brady twice in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, but the Packers were forced to punt on both occasions.

Ryan Succop booted a 46-yard field goal to give Tampa Bay a 31-23 lead with 4:42 remaining.

The Buccaneers started strong by taking the opening kickoff 66 yards on nine plays with Brady tossing a 15-yard scoring pass to Evans. Green Bay tied the score in the opening minute of the second quarter when Rodgers threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Valdes-Scantling.

Tampa Bay moved ahead on Fournette’s 20-yard run with 12:24 left in the half. The Packers crept within 14-10 on Crosby’s 24-yard field goal with 4:59 left.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tramon Williams (29) tackles Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) during the second half of an AFC Divisional Round playoff game at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Packers activate DB Tramon Williams

The Green Bay Packers promoted recent defensive back signee Tramon Williams to their active roster ahead of Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers, positioning the veteran to make NFL history.

Williams, whom Green Bay signed and placed on its practice squad after he was waived by the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, could become the first player in NFL history to play for two teams in the same postseason.

Williams, who turns 38 in March, played in six games for the Ravens this season, and then also in Sunday’s playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. He made 17 tackles in those seven games.

Williams played for the Packers most recently during the 2018-19 seasons before being let go in 2020.

Williams, who was used by the Packers to defend slot receivers last year, was a member of Green Bay’s Super Bowl champion squad in 2010. He has played in 15 playoff games with the Packers during his 10 seasons between 2007-2014 and 2018-2019.

“It’s special,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said when asked of the team’s signing of Williams this week. “He’s one of those teammates you just love playing with over the years. He’s such a professional. The way he takes care of himself, he looks amazing.”

Williams bolsters the team’s secondary and could return punts if needed against Tampa Bay.

Packers starting cornerback Kevin King is listed as questionable on the injury report after missing Friday’s practice due to “a little back issue,” according to coach Matt LaFleur.

“[Tramon] looks like he could go out and play 70 plays for us,” Rodgers said. “I’m not sure if he’s going to or not, I hope he does, because he’s still so talented. But he’s one of those special guys, special personalities.”

Williams’ signing marked the second time Green Bay has added a player who lost in the previous week of the playoffs this season. After the wild-card round, the Packers signed offensive tackle Jared Veldheer off the Colts’ practice squad. Indianapolis opened the playoffs with a loss to Buffalo.

Veldheer didn’t play against the Rams last week because he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list where he remains, meaning he won’t play on Sunday, according to the Packers.

–Field Level Media

Mar 1, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson speaks to the media during the 2017 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Former Packers GM Ted Thompson dies at 68

Former Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson, architect of the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV championship team, died on Wednesday night. He turned 68 on Sunday.

During his tenure as GM from 2005-17, Thompson drafted quarterback Aaron Rodgers, traded away franchise icon Brett Favre and helped the team compile a 125-82-1 record with nine playoff appearances.

“Our condolences go out to his family,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said Thursday. “Certainly he’s a guy that’s held in the highest regard in this building and I think just around the league.

“… So certainly we’re sitting here with heavy hearts today. I’ve only had a few opportunities to meet him over the last couple of years, but I just know how important he was to many people in this building.”

Thompson was also the Packers’ director of pro personnel when the team won Super Bowl XXXI after the 1996 season.

A Texas native, Thompson starred at linebacker at SMU before playing 154 games over 10 seasons in the NFL with the Houston Oilers (1975-84). He once filled in for injured kicker Toni Fritsch during a 1980 game against the New York Jets and made all four extra-point attempts.

He joined the Packers as a scout in 1992 and worked for the organization through the 1999 season before serving as the Seattle Seahawks’ vice president of football operations from 2000-04. He returned to Green Bay as GM in 2005 and moved into a consultant role in 2018, in part due to his declining health.

After being inducted into the Packers’ Hall of Fame in 2019, Thompson announced he was suffering from an autonomic disorder that causes weakness and cognitive issues.

“His impact is still felt to this day when you look at our roster,” LaFleur said as his team prepared for Sunday’s NFC Championship clash with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In addition to Rodgers, players drafted by Thompson on the current roster include receiver Davante Adams, tackle David Bakhtiari, center Corey Linsley, defensive tackle Kenny Clark, running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, cornerback Kevin King and kicker Mason Crosby.

–Field Level Media

Oct 18, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (right) greets Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (left) after a NFL game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs, Packers set for rematch in NFC Championship battle

The beat down was so horrific that a possible rematch didn’t seem enticing at the time.

But three months later, the fifth-seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers and top-seeded Green Bay Packers are clearly the best two teams in the conference and they will square off again in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

The winner advances to the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 in a venue highly familiar to one of these teams — Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

But flash back to Week 6 when the host Buccaneers spotted Green Bay 10 first-quarter points and then spent the rest of the game pounding and dismantling the Packers in a 38-10 shellacking.

Tampa Bay star linebacker Devin White didn’t mince words afterward, saying the Packers “didn’t deserve to be on the field with us.”

In the eyes of Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur, White’s words aren’t bulletin-board material. They are facts.

“You know, hey, he was right. They whipped us,” LaFleur said earlier this week. “There’s no sense in talking about it. The only thing you can do is you’ve got to prepare the best you can and then go prove it.”

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw two interceptions — one returned for a touchdown by cornerback Jamel Dean — and was sacked four times while passing for just 160 yards. His accuracy rate (45.7 on 16-of-35 passing) was his worst of the season.

Though things went exceedingly well in the first matchup, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians can sum up the meeting this way: Doesn’t mean a thing.

“You can’t fall into that trap of what happened last time,” Arians said. “They’re a much, much better football team and we’re a much better football team. Both (teams are) very different right now, so you better take care of today’s work each and every day.”

Tampa Bay reached the NFC title game with a solid 30-20 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. The Packers advanced with a 32-18 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday.

In fact, the Buccaneers also won at Washington this postseason and have won seven straight road games as they enter hallowed Lambeau Field while weather reports forecast a 50-percent chance of snow.

“Let’s keep that streak going — that would be pretty sweet,” Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady said. “Let’s get another one. We’re going to be challenged to get it because we’re going up against a great football team.

“It’s a great environment. This is one of the coolest stadiums in the league to play in. I know they’re excited, we’ll be excited, and it will make for a great football game.”

Brady, a six-time Super Bowl champ, will be playing in his 14th career league championship final and went 9-4 in AFC title games during his stint with the New England Patriots. The 43-year-old has been performing like someone younger as he passed for 4,633 yards and set a franchise record with 40 touchdown passes in the regular season.

Rodgers also had a stellar season with 4,299 yards and a franchise-record 48 touchdown passes and is a heavy favorite to win NFL MVP honors. He is playing in his fifth NFC title game and is looking to reach his second Super Bowl.

That lone Super Bowl appearance was 10 years ago, but Rodgers insists he isn’t feeling a raise in the stress level.

“No more pressure than usual,” Rodgers said. “It starts with the mentality and focus. Obviously, I put pressure on myself to perform every single week. There’s a lot to be said to be able to harness that pressure and the fear of failure and focus it into a real positive. But I don’t feel any extra pressure this week.”

Despite the sour outing against the Buccaneers, Rodgers and the Packers committed a league-low 11 turnovers in the regular season. Green Bay also features elite wideout Davante Adams, who led the NFL with 18 touchdowns receptions while making 115 catches for 1,374 yards.

Tampa Bay led the league in defending the run (80.6 yards per game), second-year pro White (140 tackles, nine sacks) blossomed into one of the top linebackers in the NFL and Mike Evans (NFL record seventh straight 1,000-yard season to begin a career) leads a deep group of targets.

Sunday’s game marks the first time Green Bay has hosted the NFC title game since the 2007 season when Rodgers was the backup to Brett Favre. The Packers lost to the New York Giants 23-20 in overtime.

Tampa Bay is playing in its first NFC championship contest since the 2002 season. The Buccaneers posted a 27-10 win over the host Philadelphia Eagles and went on to rout the then-Oakland Raiders 48-21 in the Super Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tramon Williams (29) tackles Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) during the second half of an AFC Divisional Round playoff game at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Packers to sign DB Tramon Williams

It appears defensive back Tramon Williams, who was waived the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, has found a team, albeit a familiar one.

The Green Bay Packers are reportedly signing the 14-year veteran in advance of Sunday’s NFC title game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to numerous media outlets.

Williams, who turns 38 in March, played for the Packers most recently during the 2018-19 seasons before being let go in 2020.

He would bolster the team’s secondary and could return punts if needed against Tampa Bay.

Williams, who is listed by the league as a free agent, played in six games for the Ravens this season, including in Sunday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills. He made 14 tackles this season.

Williams, who was used by the Packers to defend slot receivers last year, was a member of Green Bay’s Super Bowl champion squad in 2010. He’s played in 15 playoff games with the Packers during his 10 seasons between 2007-2014 and 2018-2019.

Williams played for the Browns in 2015 and 2016, before joining the Cardinals in 2017.

He has 719 tackles, 13 fumble recoveries and 34 interceptions in 205 games (153 starts).

Williams’ signing would mark the second time Green Bay has added a player who lost in the previous week of the playoffs. After the wild-card round, the Packers signed offensive tackle Jared Veldheer off the Colts’ practice squad. Indianapolis opened the playoffs with a loss to Buffalo.

Veldheer didn’t play against the Rams last week because he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and was still in protocol on Wednesday, according to the Packers.

No player in league history has ever played for two different teams in a single postseason, though that could change on Sunday.

–Field Level Media