The Bobby Carpenter-for-Alex Barron trade is expected to be completed as early as tomorrow. Now that Barron has signed his $2.62 million RFA tender, all the two players have to do is pass their physicals.
This trade looks to be a good thing for all parties involved. For the teams, they each swap players who many of their respective fans had already deemed as first round busts. For the players, the change in scenery may be just what they need to prolong their careers and get that next contract extension.
First, let's see how the Rams will make out in this deal.
Finally, we will all get to see how well Carpenter fares in a 4-3 defense. Rams' Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo should be looking forward to using Carpenter's speed and athleticism to get after NFC West quarterbacks. He obviously didn't see Will Weatherspoon in the team's future, seeing that he traded him to the Eagles midseason.
The Rams' linebacking corps in '09 boasted starters Na'il Diggs and David Vobora on the outside, with James Laurinaitis as the MLB. Behind these guys, are a bunch of huh(?) players. In this year's draft, all they did to add to the linebacker position was draft Penn State's Josh Hull in the 7th round.
If the season started tomorrow, Spagnuolo could pop in Carpenter as the starter over Mr. Irrelevant 2008, Dave Vobora. If Carp can win a starting gig next to former fellow Buckeye, Laurinaitis, the Rams' starting defense gets a pretty decent upgrade in their LB corps.
Looking at the Rams offense, they are restructuring with youth. Taking QB Sam Bradford, OT Roger Saffold, and WR Mardy Gilyard in this year's draft could provide them their look of the future on that side of the ball. Their trade of Weatherspoon netted them a young WR in Brandon Gibson to go with speedster Donnie Avery.
Now with Saffold and last year's number two overall pick, OT Jason Smith, Barron became expendable. Trading him makes RB Steven Jackson one of the eldest members of the offense at the ripe ol' age of 27.
We can all agree that the Cowboys boast a much more talented roster than the Rams; therefore, there are less positions for which a player has the opportunity to start.
Similar to St. Louis (though not to such an extent), Dallas is also opening doors for younger players to see the field. This trend is why veterans Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin were released.
At offensive tackle, it looks as if Doug Free will get every opportunity to show that the three years the team has invested in his development has paid off. He is currently the starter at LT. Even though he doesn't seem to fit the mauler "template" of Dallas' RTs, he played rather well there in Marc Colombo's stead last season. Perhaps his athleticism and mobility will prove to be just what the team needs on the left side of the line. Mark "the Gentle Giant" Tuinei come to mind for anybody?
Free, at least, offers hope for Dallas' future at the OT positions. Barron, on the other hand, offers insurance.
The alternatives? '09 redshirted rookie, Robert Brewster, is the team's best hope as the swing tackle. I guess Leonard Davis could fill in during emergency situations, too. 6th-round rookie, Sam Young, is no lock to make the team. Pat McQuistan is moving inside. UDFAs, Mike Tepper and Will Barker, play tackle. Sooo...
...if you were a fan of another team, the depth at the Cowboys' OT positions resembles that of the Rams' LB positions. Huh? players, unite!
At the very least, Barron will bring his 6'7", 300+ pound frame and 74 career starts to both tackle spots. He sounds excited to renew his career with Dallas and surely wants to get away from the criticism of the St. Louis press.
"All of that said, Barron isn't a winning player. He's committed 43 false start penalties and 13 holding penalties in 74 NFL starts. And he's allowed a total of 15 sacks over the last two seasons... I guess the Rams figure they'd rather battle with young players who want to get better, and who will get better, rather than stick with a proven underachiever in Barron."
I know there are a lot of negative numbers to consider there, but lump together the professional career starts of Free, Brewster, Young, and every other LT on the Cowboys roster and Barron has 74 more than all of them combined (though he did start many games at RT). He may not be an instant starter, but he fills a need for this team: an experienced swing tackle.
The fact that the Cowboys were able to land a player of "need" in return for Bobby Carpenter is a huge, huge plus. They have invested several draft picks recently at ILB with '09 picks, Jason Williams and Stephen Hodge, and this year's second-rounder, Sean Lee. Incumbent starter, Bradie James, plays a solid game while Keith Brooking will again do his best to play as if he's 10 years younger. Add Steve Octavien to the ILB corps, and there is simply no room for Carpenter on this team.
Right now, it looks as if this is a fair trade. Fans of both teams seem to be in the same boat in debating whether or not to declare each player as a bust. Neither Carpenter nor Barron may end up being Pro Bowlers in the future, but they both could end up playing significant roles for their new teams.
But no "Even Stevens" here. Cowboys or Rams. Who do you think will end up getting the better part of this deal?