Commanders are releasing Ioannidis after six years in Washington


In a surprising but perhaps necessary move, the Commanders are releasing longtime defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Washington.

Ioannidis' release was first reported by the Bussin' With The Boys podcast, a show that features ex-Washington defender Will Compton.

By moving on from Ioannidis, who had been with the franchise since 2016, the Commanders will save almost $7 million dollars against the salary cap. 

Since acquiring Carson Wentz, Ron Rivera's club has been much more cash-strapped than it appeared they'd be heading into free agency. That's why transactions like this one, as well as the expected release of Landon Collins (and the reported separation with guard Ereck Flowers), are necessary, even if they're also disappointing. 

Ioannidis' story with the organization was impressive. He joined the team as a fourth-round selection but was waived after his first training camp, only to return as a practice-squad piece. He ended up seeing slight action as a rookie.

In 2017, though, Ioannidis logged 4.5 sacks, and in the two years after that, he increased that total to 7.5 and then 8.5, as he developed into a really potent pass rusher along the interior.

Under Rivera, unfortunately, Ioannidis hasn't maintained the level of production he achieved before Rivera took over. In 2020, he appeared in just three games before heading to injured reserve, and in 2021, he mustered just 2.5 quarterback takedowns. 

This season, Ioannidis was slated to carry a cap hit that exceeded $8 million, which is a lot of money for a third defensive tackle (even at his peak, he wasn't playing more than Jonathan Allen or Daron Payne). In that sense, it's clear why Rivera and the Commanders chose to let him go.

That said, with Ioannidis off the roster and Tim Settle in Buffalo as well, the defensive line is rather thin behind Allen and Payne. That portion of the depth chart has become an area of concern that'll need to be supplemented through the rest of free agency and/or the draft.

In 2021, Washington's front was supposed to be the strength of the squad and one of the sport's most dominant. It underwhelmed, however, and now it's being reshuffled. Ioannidis can be a serious contributor, but between his downturn and the addition of Wentz, he just didn't fit with the Commanders anymore.

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