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Packers’ needs, players to target in 2022 NFL free agency

We go over the Packers' top positional needs in free agency and some players they may try to sign this offseason.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Update — The Packers and Rodgers have agreed to a four-year, $200 million contract, per reports. Rodgers is expected to be back under center for at least another season in 2022. His return should impact how the Packers approach free agency this offseason. another se

For the second straight season, the Green Bay Packers finished the regular season with the best record in the NFL. However, they again fell short of the Super Bowl, leaving the immediate future of quarterback Aaron Rodgers in doubt.

While the Packers and Rodgers appear to have improved their relationship from where it sat a year ago, it remains somewhat unclear whether the four-time MVP will return to Green Bay for 2022, request a trade, or hang up the cleats.

Still, the Packers have operated as though they anticipate Rodgers playing for them during the upcoming season, restructuring the contracts of David Bakhtiari, Kenny Clark, and Aaron Jones to clear up significant cap space. The team also appears likely to use the franchise tag on All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams, Rodgers’ favorite target, if the two sides don’t agree on a long-term deal before the deadline. Largely because of those developments, the Packers currently have the NFC’s second best odds to win the Super Bowl (+1400), according to DraftKings Sportsbook.

Below, we examine the Packers’ roster needs and outlook ahead of free agency.

Green Bay Packers free-agency preview

Positional needs: WR, DL, ILB, TE

While the Packers can retain Adams via the franchise tag or an extension, they probably lack the cap space to keep Marquez Valdes-Scantling, the team’s premier vertical threat. If Green Bay does find some extra financial wiggle room, the money could go toward new deals for linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and/or cornerback Rasul Douglas, two of last season’s breakout defensive stars. The offense also needs to determine what to do at tight end where Robert Tonyan Jr., who tore his ACL in late October, will hit free agency.

Players to target

De’Vondre Campbell, ILB

Last June, the Packers signed Campbell for a song (a de facto one-year, $2 million contract). After earning All-Pro honors and solidifying the middle of the defense, the veteran linebacker has the chance to cash in for the first time in his career.

While Campbell turns 29 in July, he can probably expect several multiyear offers worth around $10 million annually, possibly more. The Packers will have a hard time carving out space for him given the financial accommodations they’ll have to make to keep Rodgers and Adams. Still, Campbell met with Green Bay brass in February in hopes of working out a new deal, a prospect that remains on the table.

Robert Tonyan Jr., TE

Tonyan’s rehabilitation from last season’s knee reconstruction will complicate his market. Before the injury, the former undrafted free agent could have reasonably expected the free-agent market to pay him more than Green Bay could afford. Now, with the likelihood of garnering only one-year “prove it” offers, Tonyan could decide to remain with the team and try to cash in next offseason.

But even if Tonyan stays, it remains unclear whether he’ll suit up in Week 1. The Packers and the rest of the NFL could wait to see how his rehab unfolds before making him a formal offer.

Sammy Watkins, WR

With limited resources, the Packers probably won’t dive into the early waves of free agency. However, once the big-money deals have come and gone, the team could look for another mid-offseason bargain à la Campbell in 2021. Should wide receiver Sammy Watkins fail to find a new home by that time, Green Bay could realistically have interest.

Watkins didn’t do much for the Baltimore Ravens last season, catching just 55.1% of his 49 targets for 394 yards and a touchdown. However, he still has field-stretching speed — something the Packers lack with Valdes-Scantling expected to depart — and worked with LaFleur as members of the 2017 Los Angeles Rams.