Cowboys, Rams exchange ex-first-round picks Carpenter, Barron

The Cowboys and Rams swapped underachieving former first-round draft picks Monday, with offensive tackle Alex Barron going to Dallas and linebacker Bobby Carpenter headed for St. Louis.

Carpenter made just two starts -- one in the regular season and one in the playoffs -- in four seasons with the Cowboys, and he was a backup inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense last season. The Rams play a 4-3 defense, and 250-pound Carpenter could start alongside fellow Ohio State products James Laurinaitis, a second-round pick last year, and Na'il Diggs, a free-agent signee. A fourth Rams 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, the 18th overall pick in the 2006 draft, welcomed a fresh start to his NFL career.

"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 (in St. Louis).

"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."

Barron, who's 6-foot-7 and 315 pounds, played in 76 games -- all but two of them starts -- but he was at least a mild disappointment for the Rams after moving to left tackle full-time last season as Orlando Pace's replacement. Barron, the 19th overall choice in the 2005 draft, was a restricted free agent before signing his one-year tender with the Rams last week.

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.

"It won't be a problem here," Barron said of the penalties, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I'm ready to get this thing going here in Dallas."

Barron also was benched for disciplinary reasons during the second half of a loss to the San Francisco 49ers last October.

"As we continue to shape our roster and address the needs of our club, we believe this trade helps improve our team," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said in a statement released by the team. "We wish Alex the best and appreciate his efforts as a member of the St. Louis Rams."

Last month, the Cowboys released Adams, a five-time Pro Bowl left tackle, and fourth-year pro Doug Free had been expected to fill that opening. Free was a fourth-round pick in 2007 and started the final seven games at right tackle for injured Marc Colombo, then stepped in for an injured Adams during the second half of an NFC divisional playoff game at Minnesota.

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Barron told the Star-Telegram that the job isn't Free's just yet.

"They expect me to come in and compete for a left tackle spot," Barron said. "I'm going to give it my all and help the team the best way."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement that Barron is "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 Indiana's Rodger Saffold to open the second round of this year's draft and could start him at one tackle spot opposite Jason Smith, the second overall pick last year. Those two young players would lead the protection for quarterback Sam Bradford, the first overall pick of this year's draft.

Carpenter was drafted by Bill Parcells, who coached the player's father, Rob, a running back with the New York Giants from 1981 to 1985. But 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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