Bomber Aaron Francis is understood to be facing an unclear future at Tullamarine, with the Dons swingman sitting several places back in the club's priority retention queue.

Essendon have already moved to secure the services of several key names across the opening half of this season, with Jayden Laverde, Zach Reid, Archie Perkins, Kyle Langford, Sam Durham, Nick Martin and Sam Durham have all re-signed in 2022.

Despite the strong season of signatures that have landed on the dotted line at the Hangar, Bombers list manager Adrian Dodoro is still tasked with retaining several required players who are currently yet to recommit past the year.

Former No.1 pick Andrew McGrath is understood to be gaining interest from a pair of Victorian clubs, while fellow first-round selection Nik Cox and utility pairing Matt Guelfi and Tom Cutler are also unsigned.

The Bombers are needing to weigh up contract calls for veteran pair Michael Hurley and Dyson Heppell, with the latter understood to still be awaiting a new deal.

The long list of off-contract Bombers may see Francis placed toward the back-end of the club's thinking for the future, with The Herald Sun reporting the currently out-of-favour South Australian could be on the outer.

Francis was dropped from Ben Rutten's side for last Sunday's trip to face Port Adelaide, having averaged just seven disposals per game from his four appearances in 2022.

The Loxton North product could weigh up a move to his home state at season's end should agreed terms fail to arise at Essendon.

Francis was granted leave to return to South Australia midway through last season as he looked to focus on his mental health.

The 24-year-old has battled injuries across his seven seasons in the red sash since joining the club as the sixth overall selection in the 2015 National Draft.

Meanwhile, News Corp have also suggested Carlton wingman Lochie O'Brien is facing a similar dilemma at Princes Park, having not yet begun talks on a new deal.

O'Brien has kindled some of the best form of his young career, with first-year Blues coach Michael Voss relying on the former top 10 pick to aid his wing woes.

The Blues have continued to shuffle magnets through wider roles in midfield to complement a star-studded engine room of Patrick Cripps, George Hewett and Sam Walsh.

Carlton are understood to be showing interest in the likes of Karl Amon, Angus Brayshaw and Lachie Sholl to potentially bolster their wing positions, placing some questions over O'Brien's future.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 17: Lochie O'Brien of the Blues celebrates a goal during the 2022 AFL Round 01 match between the Carlton Blues and the Richmond Tigers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 17, 2022 In Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

While O'Brien is averaging career-best numbers for disposals, marks and uncontested possessions this season, the Blues are set to assess the 22-year-old's form across the latter half of the year in weighing up their decision on the youngster's future.

The Blues are understood to have wiggle room in their salary cap this year and may place some focus on securing forward pair Harry McKay and Charlie Curnow to new deals before they enter the final campaign of their current contracts in 2023.

O'Brien isn't the only wingman off-contract at Ikon Park this year, with Will Setterfield and Matt Cottrell unsigned beyond 2022.

Fellow 2017 first-round selection Paddy Dow is also off-contract and could be of interest to rivals, as he struggles to hold down a role in Voss' best 22-man side despite strong VFL form.

The Blues are understood to have already begun contract talks with young forward Jesse Motlop this year, who has impressed across three games to start his career in navy blue.