Could starting from scratch help Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis get his career back on track during the 2022 season?
Losing DaQuan Jones to the Buffalo Bills in free agency was something the Carolina Panthers couldn’t prevent even if they wanted to. The prospect of landing on a genuine Super Bowl contender was the opportunity of a lifetime and left his previous employers with no option other than to find yet another partner for Derrick Brown on the defensive line interior.
Although there remains hope that Daviyon Nixon and Phil Hoskins can become more impactful, asking them to come in a fill starting responsibilities at this stage of their development is unrealistic. Bravvion Roy is nothing more than a rotational piece, so finding a high-caliber individual capable of slotting in quickly was a real need for the Panthers once Jones’ departure was confirmed.
In the end, they got pretty lucky.
Matt Rhule is always looking to his former college players for assistance at the next level. So it was no surprise to see Carolina swoop for Matt Ioannidis following his early release by the Washington Commanders.
Ioannidis has been buried down a depth chart loaded with former first-round picks over the last two seasons. But the Temple product has proven production across the defensive front in a starting role.
Carolina Panthers move is a fresh start for Matt Ioannidis
The new arrival should integrate smoothly into the Panthers having worked with Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow at the college level. A fresh start is undoubtedly what’s needed at this stage of Ioannidis’ career and the player himself is adopted a rookie-type mindset to his transition before things get more intense in training camp.
"“My approach to it so far has been ears open, mouth shut. A lot of things we say — be seen, not heard as a rookie — that’s kind of where I’ve been in these first few weeks. I’m in control of what the season’s going to look like for me. I feel like I’m on par to still play some really great ball.”"
It would be easy for Ioannidis to relax in such familiar company. However, choosing to start from scratch and see how things are done is undoubtedly the best course of action for someone with such a big point to prove.
This is a prove-it year for Ioannidis, who penned a one-year, $9.5 million deal with the Panthers that came with a $4.76 million signing bonus and $5.8 million guaranteed. If he shows enough working in tandem with Brown, then the chances of a big-money contract in Carolina or elsewhere next offseason increase exponentially.
Ioannidis having a good year will also have big implications for Brown, too.
The Auburn product is expected to make a Pro Bowl-caliber leap in Year 3 of his professional career. There is nothing to suggest the 2020 first-round pick isn’t capable of this providing Ioannidis lives up to his end of the bargain.
There is no doubt Ioannidis was a victim of circumstance in Washington. Not surprising when one considers how heavily the Commanders invested in their defensive line in recent drafts.
This is another player coming to Carolina with a big chip on his shoulder. Ioannidis has the tools to make a difference and if things go according to plan, then the player’s “starting from scratch” mentality will have been the catalyst.