<
>

Rams LB Mark Barron felt blindsided, disrespected by Bucs trade

TAMPA, Fla. -- Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety and current Los Angeles Rams linebacker Mark Barron said Wednesday that he had a rough time when the Bucs traded him to the Rams in 2014 for fourth-round and sixth-round draft picks.

“I wouldn’t say it hurt. I don’t feel like it was the way it should have happened,” Barron said. “I don’t think it was respectful at all, in my opinion.”

He admitted he was completely blindsided by it. “I didn’t know anything about the situation. I didn’t even know it was being talked about.”

Former Bucs general manager Mark Dominik made Barron the seventh overall draft pick in 2012 and he excelled early under former head coach Greg Schiano. He had three interceptions, a sack and two forced fumbles in his first two seasons.

After the Bucs went 4-12 in 2013, Dominik and Schiano were fired. Current general manager Jason Licht was brought in along with Lovie Smith, who installed his Tampa 2-style defense. Barron appeared to be in position to thrive under Smith, but there were instances of him being late to meetings, which forced Smith to bench him for a series in the third preseason game, and other instances of behavior deemed unprofessional by the team. The Bucs replaced him Bradley McDougald, who is still on the team.

Barron said that even though Smith isn’t there anymore, he still feels extra incentive any time he plays the Bucs, to show them that they were wrong for letting him go. “Most definitely,” Barron said. “I always feel that way every time I face that team, even though it’s a different staff. I most definitely approach the game that way.”

The Rams converted him to an outside linebacker, although his role is more as a hybrid than a true outside linebacker. He still has significant coverage responsibilities.

“I don’t go back and play halves, but they still ask me to do a lot as far as coverage. ... I’m closer to the ball,” Barron said. “I feel like I was always a guy that was around the ball, even though it was from a safety position. So now it’s closer to it and I can get to everything faster, which allows me to make more plays.”

The change paid off. Barron led the Rams last year with 116 combined tackles, a sack, five pass breakups and three forced fumbles in 12 starts. Through two starts this season, he has 13 combined tackles and three pass breakups.

“When I came out here, I was pretty much placed in a group of guys who approached the game the same way I did,” Barron said. “I’m happy that it happened. I feel like it was one of the better things that happened in my career.”