The Green Bay Packers are facing a lot of uncertainty as we enter the 2022 NFL offseason. Much of that revolves around quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his future with the organization. Obviously, the plan for the new season changes if Rodgers departs and it changes if he stays depending on what kind of contract extension he signs and how much salary cap room that gives the team to work with.
If we set Rodgers’ future aside, the Packers still have several positions on their roster that will need reinforcements if the team hopes to be competitive again in 2022. Here are the top five Packers areas of needs entering the 2022 offseason. Again, these are subject to change depending on which players are back with the team next season and which are not brought back.
- Tight End
Starter Robert Tonyan is coming off a season-ending injury and is an unrestricted free agent while lead blocking tight end Marcedes Lewis is going to be 38 before the start of the 2022 season and may retire. That leaves Josiah Deguara as the incumbent on the roster with role players like Dominique Dafney and Tyler Davis on the roster along with Alize Mack who just signed a futures contract with the team.
The Packers used the duo of Deguara and Lewis as the primary tight ends after Tonyan’s injury. They got by but did not excel. Will Tonyan and Lewis be back? Can Deguara take a step forward in his third NFL season? If Tonyan re-signs can he return to his 2020 form and will he be healthy enough to start the 2022 season on time?
There are many questions surrounding this position and GM Brian Gutekunst has some tough decisions to make here.
- Defensive Line
The Packers have a Pro Bowl performer at the position in Kenny Clark and then a lot of question marks. Players like Dean Lowry and Tyler Lancaster saw plenty of action but both may be cap casualties this offseason. Even if they do return, the position can use upgrading.
T.J. Slaton showed flashes as a rookie and the Packers will look for him to take a step forward in his second season. He has skills but has yet to establish himself as a starter at the NFL level.
Kingsley Keke was released late in the season and won’t be back so there are starting spots open heading into this offseason.
The Packers have rarely made the defensive line a priority in recent seasons but this is an area they need to address this offseason if they hope to remain competitive in 2022.
- Inside Linebacker
De’Vondre Campbell and Krys Barnes gave the Packers a solid duo but questions remain. Campbell gave the Packers an All Pro at the position for the first time since Hall of Famer Ray Nitschke back in 1966 but Campbell is an unrestricted free agent and the Packers may not be able to afford to keep him depending on what happens with Rodgers and Davante Adams.
Barnes took a step forward in his second season and the presence of Campbell helped his development.
Primary backup Oren Burks is also an unrestricted free agent and may not be back. Even if Burks does return, he has yet to prove he can be a starter at the position.
The Packers drafted Isaiah McDuffie in the sixth round in 2021, but he has yet to take a defensive snap and is probably not ready to start next season.
Even if Campbell returns, more depth is needed at this position. If Campbell departs, this becomes a major need although it’s a position the Packers have not placed a high priority on for more than a decade.
- Edge Rusher
The Packers will have Rashan Gary back in 2022 but both Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith have contracts that make it nearly impossible for the Packers to keep them unless they agree to an extension or a new contract.
The feeling is that Gutekunst will try to keep at least one of the Smiths if that’s possible. If they only keep one Smith, they will need more depth.
Backup Whitney Mercilus is also an unrestricted free agent although he will certainly be cheaper to bring back than the Smiths. Mercilus will be 32 around the time training camp opens and is best suited for spot duty as a situational pass rusher if he comes back.
Jonathan Garvin and Tipa Galeai saw a lot of action this year but neither is ready for a starting role. The Packers need more talent and depth here especially if one or both Smith Brothers leave in free agency.
- Wide Receiver
The wide receiver position is the biggest area of need for the Packers as the 2022 offseason begins. All Pro Davante Adams is an unrestricted free agent and reportedly wants to be the highest paid receiver in the NFL. The Packers may use the franchise tag on him until they can agree on a long term deal, they could let him walk and say it would be too expensive to bring him back or they could do a sign-and-trade type deal by using the franchise tag.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling is also an unrestricted free agent. MVS and the team have both indicated they are interested in the possibility of bringing him back but the details still need to be worked out. The speedster may be able to get more money elsewhere if he hits the open market. The Packers do not have another receiver on their roster with the speed Valdes-Scantling provides.
Allen Lazard is a restricted free agent and will most likely be back assuming the Packers offer him a legitimate tender. Equanimeous St. Brown is also an unrestricted free agent but has never been consistently productive. The Packers would have to rework Randall Cobb’s contract if they want him back for 2022 because there’s no way he’s worth the $9 million per year cap hit he’s presently scheduled to make.
Even if Adams returns, the Packers need more talent and depth at this position. They can hope Amari Rodgers makes a jump in his second season but even if everybody returns (and they likely won’t all return) the Packers need to improve this area of their roster.
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