Barron's lack of consistency with snap counts was counter balanced by his consistent ability to stay healthy. Losing a warm body, a starter nonetheless, on an offensive line chronically plagued by health concerns could come with dire consequences. At least that's what some people thought.
Set aside line's health issues and think about the QB's health issues. You don't need to dig deep into the memory of fans to get a picture of Marc Bulger and battered QB syndrome. Alex Barron has been starting on the Rams OL since 2005, his rookie year, when he started 11 games; he started 16 games in subsequent years, save for a one game benching 2008. Last season, Rams QBs were sacked 44 times, tied with Jags as the sixth most in the league.
And Barron's role in all that? Let's go to the numbers (from Pro Football Focus) for some insight. Stats include sacks
|Year||Sacks||QB hits||QB pressure|
Barron played 1,025 snaps last season and allowed the QB to be molested on about 4.4 percent of those snaps. Left tackle was suppose to be a better fit for Barron, a more natural position, but he was much worse on the left than the right side in 2008, where he allowed defenders to reach the QB on 3.2 percent of snaps he played. These numbers don't even touch the little matter of Barron's penalties, more evidence that he failed to grow as a player with the Rams.
By comparison, Adam Goldberg allowed sacks, hits and pressures on 4.1 percent of the snaps he played at RT. Rookie Jason Smith had the best number of the bunch with 3.8 percent on his limited number of snaps.
Smith is a rookie, and, ideally, should get better; he improved noticeably as the season went on last year, prior to his concussion. The same can't be said of Barron, who never seemed to get better no matter what the team did with him.
The Rams lose only depth with Barron, and at the salary he would have been paid through his RFA tender, the team was paying starting money to a backup tackle. Not exactly good business. As camp begins, another OT with starting experience and a clean bill of health would reassure fans. That need should not overshadow the fact that the Rams made the right move in cutting ties with Barron and upgraded their linebackers in the process. Teams struggling to get a new lease on life can't afford unlimited patience for first round picks that perform at a level similar to backups.