- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Washington Commanders plan to release guard Ereck Flowers and defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis on Wednesday, a source with knowledge of the situation said. The surprising moves will save roughly $17 million in salary-cap space, but suddenly has holes to fill on units that were touted as the team’s strength. 

Flowers, 27, started in all but one game for Washington last year. The Commanders were interested in reconstructing Flowers’ contract, but made the decision to move on. Flowers’ departure comes days after All-Pro Brandon Scherff agreed to join the Jacksonville Jaguars — meaning the Burgundy and Gold now have vacancies at both starting guard spots. 

Ioannidis, meanwhile, was a key rotational piece for the Commanders, subbing in for starters Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne and serving as an extra lineman in jumbo packages. The 28-year-old played nearly 55% of the team’s defensive snaps this past season, recording 2 1/2 sacks. He played in 16 games in 2021, a year after missing 13 games with a season-ending torn biceps.

Just last year, Washington‘s defensive line depth was seen as among the best in the NFL. But all of a sudden, the Commanders will have to replace Ioannidis and backup Tim Settle. Settle agreed this week to a two-year, $9 million contract with the Buffalo Bills, a team that should provide more of an opportunity for the former fifth-rounder to take the field. 

Likewise, the offensive line was also highly praised. Pro Football Focus ranked the unit as the sixth-best offensive line this past season — a ranking that coach Ron Rivera cited repeatedly as a selling point in the team’s pursuit of a new quarterback.  If Washington doesn’t make any additions at guard, veteran Wes Schweitzer and third-year lineman Saahdiq Charles could be internal options to fill both spots.

Flowers was on his second stint with Washington. The team initially signed him in 2019 and converted the former first-rounder from tackle to guard — a move that worked wonders for his career. Before Washington, Flowers was widely panned as a draft bust due to unsuccessful stints on the New York Giants and Jaguars. Following 2019, he signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the Miami Dolphins, but after one season under that deal, Washington re-acquired him in a trade prior to last season. 

Though Ioannidis‘ release caught people off guard, the NFL Network reported after the fact that the Commanders were trying to trade Ioannidis before releasing him. Washington faced a salary cap crunch after agreeing to trade for quarterback Carson Wentz — and his $28.3 million cap hit — last week. 

The Commanders, though, seem to be clearing space.

Along with Ioannidis and Flowers, the team will cut high-priced safety Landon Collins. Multiple reports indicated Wednesday that Collins will be designated as a post-June 1 release — a transaction that will create $11.9 million in room this year rather than $6.8 million. The money, however, won’t become available until after June 1. 

According to salary cap expert Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus, the Commanders will have around $20 million in salary cap room to work with after cutting Flowers and Ioannidis

The Commanders have been one of eight teams yet to sign a free agent away from another team this year. Their lone notable move has been re-signing starting safety Bobby McCain to a two-year, $11 million contract. In addition to Settle and Scherff, running back J.D. McKissic also left the franchise to sign with Buffalo. 

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide