The Dallas Cowboys could be an ideal destination for an NFC East’s former starter.
As proposed by Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, a free agent the Cowboys “must pursue” is none other than defensive lineman Matthew Ioannidis. The 29-year-old Ioannidis is a seven-year veteran who has started 53 games in his career, including 40 games between 2017 and 2021 for the Washington Commanders.
Knox argues that adding a veteran lineman with versatility — Ioannidis has played at both end and tackle — would benefit the Cowboys.
“Adding a veteran to the defensive front would make a ton of sense for Dallas, and there’s a good one available in Matthew Ioannidis,” writes Knox. “Ioannidis would bring positional versatility, as he’s spent time at end and on the defensive interior. He’s also been a steady defender when healthy, In four of his last five seasons, he recorded at least 31 tackles and a sack.”
Why Cowboys Would Benefit From Signing Matthew Ioannidis
Knox also points to the Cowboys’ struggles in the run defensive department as a reason why Dallas should consider signing the former Commanders starter. Dallas ranked 22nd in rushing yards and 17th in rushing yards per attempt allowed last season.
“A year ago, the Cowboys defense ranked just 22nd in rushing yards allowed,” writes Knox. “In a conference that features run-first teams like the Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles, that’s problematic.”
Over the course of his seven seasons in the NFL, Ioannidis has posted 212 tackles, 68 quarterback hits and 25.5 sacks as a member of the Commanders and Carolina Panthers. During his lone season with the Panthers last year, Ioannidis started all 13 of his appearances while posting 37 tackles, nine quarterback hits, five tackles for loss and one forced fumble.
According to Pro Football Focus, Ioannidis posted above average grades across the board, posting a 66.4 defensive grade, 63.5 run defensive grade and 69.1 pass-rushing grade. Those grades are on par for his career, as Ioannidis hasn’t posted lower than a 65.4 defensive grade since the 2017 season and has posted at least a 69.1 pass-rushing grade over the past six seasons.
By comparison, the Cowboys’ current defensive tackles all posted lower run-defensive grades than Ioannidis last season.
Top NFC Teams All Excel at Running Football
The Cowboys’ chief rivals in the NFC — the New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles — are all run-heavy teams who rank amongst the top teams in the NFL when it comes to running the football. During the 2022 season, the Giants ranked fourth in rushing, the Niners ranked eighth and the Eagles ranked fifth.
In other words, having heavy depth along the defensive line almost feels like a necessity if the Cowboys are going to match up with the elite teams of the NFC in the playoffs. It’s no secret that Dallas has lost to San Francisco in the playoffs over the last two seasons, allowing 282 rushing yards in those two games.
To top it off, considering Ioannidis remains a free agent heading into the 2023 season, he should be more of a bargain signing than anything else.
“At this point in the offseason, Ioannidis shouldn’t be especially expensive either,” writes Knox. “He played on a one-year, $9.5 million deal last season, and if he’s looking for work now, he should be open to taking a little bit less to land with a contender.”
Considering the Cowboys’ major weakness last season was their interior of their defensive line, signing Ioannidis is a move Dallas should consider if they struggle against the Giants- run-heavy rushing attack in Week 1.