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Rams, Cowboys swap first-round disappointments
St. Louis trades the NFL's most penalized lineman for a linebacker
ST. LOUIS -- The Cowboys and Rams have swapped underachieving former first-round picks, with offensive tackle Alex Barron going to Dallas and linebacker Bobby Carpenter headed for St. Louis.
Carpenter made only two starts in four seasons for the Cowboys, one in the regular season and one in the playoffs, and was a backup inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense last season. The Rams have a 4-3 defense and the 250-pound Carpenter could start alongside fellow Ohio State products James Laurinaitis, a second-round pick last year, and Na'il Diggs. A fourth St. Louis linebacker, Larry Grant, also played for the Buckeyes.
"That's kind of an anomaly there," Carpenter said. "It's going to be great to come in and play with those guys."
Carpenter was the 18th pick of the 2006 draft and Barron was the 19th choice in 2005. The trade was finalized Monday and Carpenter welcomed a fresh start.
"We've had a good team for a lot of years and it's been tough to get on the field," Carpenter said of his years in Dallas. "I think it's going to be a great opportunity.
"They've got some great defensive minds and really a young team, so I think it's going to be really enthusiastic, a lot of energy."
The 6-foot-7, 315-pound Barron played in 76 games for St. Louis, all but two of them starts, and has been at least a mild disappointment after moving full-time to left tackle last year as the replacement for Orlando Pace. Barron had been a restricted free agent before agreeing to a one-year tender.
Barron drew five holding calls and 14 penalties last season, most in the league by an offensive lineman, according to STATS. The service said Barron also is the most frequently whistled offensive lineman since 2005 with 73 penalties, 23 more than Flozell Adams, who's next on the list.
Barron was benched for disciplinary reasons during the second half of a loss to the 49ers last October.
A spokesman for Barron did not return a telephone message from the AP.
The Cowboys last month released Adams, a five-time Pro Bowler, although fourth-year player Doug Free is expected to fill that opening. Free was a fourth-round selection in 2007 and started the final seven games at right tackle for injured Marc Colombo, and stepped in for an injured Adams in the second half of the NFC divisional playoff game at Minnesota.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement that Barron was "just entering his prime years in the NFL."
"That experience is invaluable for a young offensive lineman," Jones said. "It also speaks to his durability and versatility having started at both tackle positions."
The Rams drafted Rodger Saffold of Indiana to open the second round of this year's draft and could start him at one tackle opposite Jason Smith, the second overall pick of last year's draft. Those two young players would lead the protection for quarterback Sam Bradford, the first overall pick of the draft.
Carpenter was drafted by Bill Parcells, who coached Carpenter's father, Rob, a running back with the Giants from 1981 to 1985. Carpenter became dispensable when the Cowboys moved up four spots in the second round of this year's draft and took Penn State linebacker Sean Lee with the 55th pick.
Lee is expected to fill Carpenter's role on special teams and as a backup linebacker.