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Alabama Football: NFL Free Agency

Tuesday provided nothing but madness, as marquee names were on the move during free agency in the National Football League. Ndamukong Suh, Frank Gore, Nick Foles, Jimmy Graham and others found a new home. Three former Alabama players were involved in the event, Mark Ingram, James Carpenter and Jesse Williams.

Mark Ingram has gone from being an injury prone running back, to possibly the third-most valuable player for the New Orleans Saints. He and the front office agreed to a four-year, $16 million deal on Mar. 7, 2015. The transaction was finalized after the Saints’ released running back Pierre Thomas, a 7-year veteran. A bromance between Saints’ quarterback Drew Bress and tight end Jimmy Graham was the next domino to fall.

New Orleans and Seattle agreed to a blockbuster trade, sending Graham to the Seahawks along with a fourth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. The Saints, in return, get Max Unger (center) and the 31st pick in the draft. The losses of Graham and Thomas creates more pressure on Ingram to step up. He’s coming off his best NFL season, in which he totaled 1,109 yards from scrimmage (964 rushing, 145 receiving) with nine touchdowns. The addition of Max Unger at center will provide stability in the run game for New Orleans.

James Carpenter’s run in Seattle has come to an end. The four-year left guard was consistent as a Seahawk since entering the league in 2011. He opened holes for running back Marshawn Lynch, guiding him to 1,000+ yards rushing in all four seasons. Lynch accounted for 1,306 yards and 13 scores in 2014. Seattle led the NFL in rushing last season, averaging 172.6 yards per game.

Carpenter made three playoff appearances and was a member of two NFC Division crowns with Seattle. He was a part of the Seahawks’ 2013 Super Bowl Championship team. Carpenter signed with the New York Jets, making him the second offensive lineman it’s acquired from Seattle (Berno Giacomini, right tackle). Carpenter’s deal is set at four years, $5 million. He provides veteran leadership on the left side of the ball, alongside Nick Mangold (center) and D’Brickashaw Ferguson (left tackle).

Two years on injury reserve was all the rope needed to hang Jesse Williams’s time in Seattle. The Seahawks selected him with the 137th pick (fifth round) in 2013 NFL Draft. He was a force in 26 games at Alabama, but didn’t see any field time in Seattle. Multiple knee injuries caused the team to cut Williams on Mar. 6, 2015. He was still a part of two playoff appearances, two NFC Division crowns and a Super Bowl title.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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