Christian Barmore has the potential for stardom during his third season with the New England Patriots, but the defensive tackle’s ability to dominate the NFL can be boosted by “a tried-and-true interior pass rusher” who is still a free agent.
Matt Ioannidis is an ideal partner for Barmore, according to Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus. Spielberger believes the double act “would make sense” for a Pats’ defensive line already bolstered by the selection of second-round pick Keion White in the 2023 NFL draft.
White has the versatility to align anywhere up front, but Ioannidis has “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.”
Ioannidis spent the 2022 season with the Carolina Panthers, and while his numbers were modest, the 29-year-old proved his ability to pressure the pocket during six mostly productive campaigns in Washington.
Veteran Defensive Tackle Offers Proven Track Record
Ioannidis was drafted in the fifth round by Washington back in 2016 and was expected to be little more than a backup nose tackle. Or else nothing more than a magnet for double teams on the edge of a 3-4 front.
Instead, he confounded expectations to emerge as a force from the inside. Ioannidis logged 20.5 sacks for Washington during a three-season run beginning in 2017.
Things didn’t exactly play out as anticipated for Ioannidis in the NFC South. He had only one sack to show for 13 starts, but the 6-foot-3, 310-pounder still registered 10 pressures and seven quarterback knockdowns, per Pro Football Reference.
Ioannidis has the power to two-gap on a three-man line, along with the takeoff and aggression to attack openings rushing out of a four-man front. That versatility makes him a natural fit for the multiple defense the Patriots love to run.
It would also make Ioannidis an ideal partner for Barmore and White.
Christian Barmore a Budding Star
Barmore has all the physical tools to become an elite game-wrecker, but he’s still searching for consistency. When he puts it all together, like on this play against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills from Week 18, highlighted by Taylor Kyles of Patriots on CLNS, No. 90 is a nightmare for interior blockers.
Allen is just one of the quarterbacks in the AFC East the Patriots must put a box around this season. The same approach will be needed against Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets, as well as to contain Miami Dolphins’ starter Tua Tagovailoa.
Building the boxes won’t be possible without a strong push inside to complement pressure off the edges. Barmore can handle the first part — provided he’s over the knee injury that cost him seven games and landed him on injured reserve last season — but he needs help, and that’s where Ioannidis can get involved.
The latter got a lucrative one-year contract worth $9.5 million from the Panthers last offseason, with $5.8 million guaranteed, according to Spotrac.com. It’s a hefty payout, but the Patriots wouldn’t need to come close to matching those terms for a veteran who has been a salary cap casualty the last two seasons and has mustered only modest statistics in that time.
Instead, the Pats could easily make room for a cost-effective deal thanks to $12,939,784 worth of cap space. The money would be well spent on making Ioannidis a key part of a deep and formidable defensive tackle rotation.