With a lingering potential need as training camp approaches, a great free agent fit remains available for the Detroit Lions.
The Detroit Lions aggressively refurbished their secondary in free agency, addressing a huge weakness on the roster (cornerback) naturally along the way. Elsewhere on the defensive side, a need for reinforcements on the interior defensive line tied them to some of the top defensive tackle prospects in this year's draft class.
Brodric Martin was drafted in the third round, but he profiles as a nose tackle. Veteran Christian Covington was added later, but he may not even make the 53-man roster. Alim McNeill is in line for a breakout season, but general manager Brad Holmes should have an eye out for opportunities to add someone to the defensive tackle mix.
Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus freshly listed one move (trade, free agent signing, contract extension) for each NFL team before training camp. He's gone to this particular well before for the Lions, but it still makes sense.
Great free agent lingers available for the Detroit Lions to sign
Here's what Spielberger wrote, in circling back to suggest the Lions sign free agent defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis:
"Ioannidis was one of the more surprising cap casualties heading into 2022, ultimately landing with the Carolina Panthers on a one-year, $5.9 million flier. He paired well with nose tackle Derrick Brown as a lighter pass rusher up the middle. Ioannidis has missed time here and there in recent seasons with injuries, but he's been a consistently strong pass rusher from the interior, earning pass-rush grades of 69.1 or better in each of the past six seasons with a pressure rate of around 10% in each of the past two. He can help a lot of teams make things tough on opposing quarterbacks.- Brad Spielberger, Pro Football Focus
A reliable veteran on the interior next to 2021 third-round pick Alim McNeill could be a key addition to a young Lions defensive line that was gashed up the middle at times in 2022. Detroit does not have many holes left, but not significantly addressing the interior of the defensive line this offseason — via the draft or free agency — leaves an area in need of reinforcements."
While his most productive seasons with Washington are inching further away, deeper metrics have been kind to Ioannidis. Last season, Pro Football Focus graded him in the upper third of defensive lineman who played at least 20 percent of his team's defensive snaps (h/t to Heavy). His presence next to Derrick Brown in Carolina last year, helping to foster a breakthrough season for the former top-10 pick, should be discounted.
The Lions have plenty of cap space to make any moves they might want to. Not that they'd have to break the bank for anyone, as the calendar nears flipping to July. But Ioannidis lingers available as a nice potential fit to fill out the defensive line.