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By Jonathan Bales

Report: Bobby Carpenter to St. Louis for Alex Barron Deal Close

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Pro Football Talk is reporting that the Cowboys and Rams are closing in on a deal that would send nickel linebacker Bobby Carpenter to St. Louis for offensive tackle Alex Barron. The main deterrents to a possible trade are the contracts of both players.  Carpenter is in the final year of his contract and Barron is a restricted free agent.

Assuming the teams are able to overcome the financial issues, the deal appears to be a good one for Dallas.  In our projected 53-man roster, we had Carpenter being cut.  We feel the Cowboys will be lucky to receive anything for him.  The Rams likely feel the same way about Barron.

In our Inside Linebacker Grades (run defense stats shown to the left), we gave Carpenter a D+.  He is very limited in Coach Phillips’ 3-4 scheme.  The addition of second-rounder Sean Lee and the possible emergence of second-year linebacker Jason Williams means there is very little room for Carpenter on the Cowboys, even as a nickel linebacker.

A more important question might be how well Barron would fit in Dallas.  The Cowboys’ coaches seem confident in newly-appointed starting left tackle Doug Free (who we provided a solid overall grade of B-).  Barron would likely compete with Free for the starting gig, with the loser becoming a (very above-average) swing tackle.

We can’t help but wonder, though, whether the Cowboys would have just been better off keeping Flozell Adams.  To determine the answer, we decided to compare the 2009 statistics of Adams and Barron (shown below).

As you can see, the numbers of the two players are quite similar.  So the Cowboys would have been just as well off to keep Adams, right?  Well, not necessarily.  Remember that sacks, hits, and pressures are all dependent not just on offensive linemen, but also the mobility of the quarterback.  With Rams quarterback Marc Bulger basically a sitting duck for opposing defenses, it was very difficult for any St. Louis lineman to attain quality numbers last season.

Note: 'Snaps' category includes pass plays only.

Further, we consider quarterback pressures to be the statistic which is most indicative of a lineman’s success in pass protection.  Sacks are a bit too fluky and are represented by too small a sample size to be completely statistically significant.  Moreover, they are much more dependent on the mobility of the quarterback than pressures–a stat which is more ripe for comparison between linemen on different squads.

Adams yielded 1.57 times the quarterback pressures of Barron in 2009.  We feel confident in saying that the number of sacks and hits Barron gave up would have been significantly lower had he played for the Cowboys (and consequently protected for an athletic, mobile quarterback) last season.

Of course, pass protection isn’t the only component of linemen duties.  Without a database of statistics similar to the one we have compiled for the Cowboys’ 2009 plays, it is difficult to determine how effective Barron was in run blocking.  According to Pro Football Focus, Barron was a slightly below-average run blocker in 2009.  PFF does a fairly decent job in grading game film, so if we take this assessment to be true, how much of an upgrade (if at all) is Barron over Adams?

Well, we provided Adams with a ‘D+’ in pass protection and a ‘B’ in run blocking, for a ‘C-’ (73.4 percent) overall grade.  We would give Barron a ‘B-’ in pass protection and (according to PFF) a ‘C-’ in run blocking.  This would result in a ‘C+’ overall grade (79.0 percent).

Thus, we feel Barron is an upgrade over Adams.  The increase in pass protection ability from Barron to Adams also makes the upgrade even greater than the 5.6 percent grade differential, as the Cowboys could probably benefit more from a quality pass protector (particularly on Romo’s blind side) than another solid run blocker.

The issue fans should be most concerned about regarding Barron’s play is his penalty count.  Everyone knows how much Adams struggled with penalties throughout his career in Dallas.  Well, Barron had one more penalty than Adams in 2009.  If Barron can limit this number to single digits, the upgrade in pass protection that would come with his addition would likely mean a Carpenter-for-Barron swap would bring with it very high upside and opportunity for success.

**UPDATE: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting the deal will happen as soon as tomorrow.

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12 Responses to Report: Bobby Carpenter to St. Louis for Alex Barron Deal Close

  1. john coleman says:

    Oh Happy Day! Talk about a no brainer. Basically, we get a younger Flo, for a guy who was going to get cut, by next season for sure. Maybe, being in an organization with a chance to go somewhere, lights this guy up. He has the skills and decent production. Much better than Carpenter’s production. I will say last season was Carpenter’s best. From what it sounds like Barron’s and Carpenter’s motors are about equal. Good move for all concerned IMO. Goodbye to Procter and McQuistan. Preston was gone anyway. No more putrid oline backups.

  2. john coleman says:

    BTW regarding LB nickel packages. If something happens to or with Lee and Williams, such as injury. Maybe Watkins or Church, sneak up for nickel only.

  3. Well, I don’t think Watkins is going to have a home in Dallas this season, particularly if Church is on the squad (not sure if you meant both of them are on the team together, or independently). I have a feeling we will be changing our 53-man projection to include Church…he played very well at mini-camp.

    Either way, I don’t think it is a foregone conclusion that Lee wins the job. Williams, in my mind, is the guy to beat right now. If BOTH get injured, then yes, bringing a safety up seems better than letting a bigger ILB stay on the field.

    However, I think moving Sensy to nickel LB and bringing two FS types in the game (Ball and AOA or Hamlin) is also a possibility.

  4. Didn’t see your first comment…..Yes, Barron is basically a younger Flo. And you are right about Carpenter being cut…we projected him being released and I’m not sure why others aren’t mentioning this. James, Brooking, Lee, and Williams are all obviously locks to make the team. With Lee and Williams both nickel LBs, where is there room for Barbie? There’s no way in hell he was going to make this team, IMO.

    However, this move doesn’t affect Procter. Yes, McQuistan is gone, but I would still project Procter to make the team at this point. Versatility sure can make up for a lack of talent, huh?

  5. john coleman says:

    Either or on the safety thing. I don’t know a lot about Church. I know he is a hitter, but has coverage issues, supposedly. I also know he had good college production. I think speed is a question too. However, it’s not like Watkins has set the woods on fire. Youth is good, as long as it is not a liability. On Carpenter, he just never had the toughness to play inside. Maybe he fits better in the 4-3. I’m hoping Holland gets the practice reps at center to allow us to get rid of Procter. Will Brewster go back to guard now? Where does this leave Bright, tepper, and Young?

  6. My guess is Brewster and Young will stay at tackle. I think Bright is a possibility to get center reps as well, which would allow the Cowboys to keep both him and Holland instead of Procter.

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  9. And there goes another player of the tuna era. I like the value of this trade for both teams. Carp was solid in nickel situations and should be even better in a 4-3 base d. In Barron, the Cowboys might have landed the next Colombo or Davis.

    My expectations towards Barron are not too high though. Nice backup / swing tackle.

  10. Carpenter will be better in a 4-3, but he wasn’t even very good as a nickel LB, according to our stats. He finished the season with the worst grade of any defensive player (by far).

    Barron is a guy with good talent who will become one of the better backup OT’s in the league. It should ease some fans’ concerns, at least a little.

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