Von Miller

West Rumors: Miller, Celek, 49ers, RBs

Von Miller turned 30 this offseason and will soon start his ninth NFL season, but it doesn’t look like the Broncos will need to consider making plans for a near-future Miller retirement. Denver’s all-time sack leader said (via USA Today’s Lila Bromberg) he wants to play long enough to make a run at Bruce Smith‘s NFL record. That will be quite difficult, with Miller (98 sacks) having averaged 12.25 sacks per season (a figure weighed down by his 2013 suspension-shortened slate) and Smith having recorded 200 during his 19-year career. Miller would need to average 10.2 sacks over the next 10 seasons to get there. However, Miller sits second among active NFLers in sacks — trailing only Terrell Suggs (132). While the odds are against him eclipsing the Smith standard that has stood for 16 years, it is notable the likely Hall of Fame-bound pass rusher plans on playing for several more seasons. Three seasons remain on Miller’s six-year, $114.1MM contract.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions, shifting to the NFC West:

  • The back surgery 49ers tight end Garrett Celek underwent this month features an approximate two-month recovery timetable, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area notes, adding that it no longer appears certain the 31-year-old skill-position cog will be able to continue his career. Celek ended last season in concussion protocol, where he remains for procedural purposes, and the extension he signed in 2016 has just one more season remaining on it. The 49ers prepared for this possibility by signing Levine Toilolo, drafting Kaden Smith in the sixth round and adding Wyoming product Tyree Mayfield as a UDFA.
  • Tevin Coleman‘s history with Kyle Shanahan, and the time Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida missed this offsason, makes him the best bet to be San Francisco’s top back, Maiocco writes. McKinnon is expected to return for the start of training camp, but it has been a while since the former Vikings running back — who received $18MM guaranteed in 2018 — has played. The 49ers will likely make one of these players a healthy scratch on game days, with Maiocco adding the presences of Kyle Juszczyk and top special-teamer Raheem Mostert will force Shanahan to deactivate one of his top three backs. This situation bears monitoring during the preseason, as it would seem a trade could benefit the 49ers.
  • Robert Nkemdiche‘s recent arrest may spell the end of his underwhelming Cardinals stay.
  • More clarity emerged on the Todd Gurley front, but the two-time All-Pro Rams running back’s situation figures to remain murky until we near the regular season.

NFL Contract Restructures: 3/15/18

With the 2018 league year officially underway, a number of teams have reworked player contracts in order to create additional cap space. Here’s what moves clubs have made today:

  • Broncos: Created $12.375MM in 2018 cap space by converting $16MM of LB Von Miller‘s $18.5MM base salary into a signing bonus (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com).
  • Cardinals: G Mike Iupati accepted $3MM pay cut. 2018 base salary reduced from $7.75MM to $5MM. $250K roster bonus eliminated. 2019 contract season is now voidable (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com).
  • Cowboys: Created ~$7.5MM in 2018 cap space by restructuring C Travis Frederick‘s contract (Twitter link via Jane Slater of NFL.com).
  • Eagles: Created $5.407MM in 2018 cap space by converting $7.21MM of TE Zach Ertz‘s $8MM base salary into a fully guaranteed roster bonus (Twitter link via Yates).
  • Ravens: Created $5.625MM in 2018 cap space by converting $7.5MM of DT Brandon Williams‘ $8.5MM base salary into a signing bonus (Twitter link via Yates).

Collins: I Didn’t Ask For “Von Miller Money”

After the Patriots shipped Jamie Collins to the Browns, it was widely reported that the team’s unsuccessful contract talks helped to spur the deal. According to one report, Collins’ camp once told the Patriots that they were seeking “Von Miller money.” In a chat with reporters today, Collins denied setting his asking price that high. Jamie Collins

I’m not Von Miller. Let’s be smart,” Collins said (Twitter link via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com).

Collins also denied rumblings of an $11MM/year contract offer from the Pats (Twitter link). However, as noted yesterday, it sounds like a matter of semantics. The Patriots apparently floated that number in talks, but never formally put such an offer on the table.

The details of Collins’ talks with the Patriots are largely irrelevant now, but it does give us insight into where his team may kick things off in negotiations. The Browns obviously want to lock Collins up for future seasons and they now know that they won’t have to work his reps down from a ludicrously high six-year, $114.5MM starting point. Yesterday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com heard that Collins does want to top Luke Kuechly‘s $12.36MM/year average, which is a more realistic target. Kuechly signed his deal with the Panthers prior to the 2015 season and the cap/market increase may allow Collins to leapfrog him, depending on how he performs for the rest of the season.

Collins also said he feels he’s auditioning for the 31 other teams, considering he’s out of contract after this season. At the same time, he said that he “wasn’t worried” about joining the winless Browns and is putting his focus on thriving with his new team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Miller, Elway, Chiefs

Von Miller‘s agent Joby Branion has been particularly busy recently. Today, he appeared on PFT Live to discuss his client’s extension negotiations with the Broncos. In particular, the agent talked about John Elway‘s tactics during these contract talks.

“He’s just extremely competitive,” Branion said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “I can say that the negotiation approach that he and his team uses is a bit unorthodox and unconventional but you can’t argue with the effectiveness and we don’t know unless we’re in their room what their ultimate goals are. So it’s always after the fact you sort of look and say, ‘Well that didn’t look like that worked out well,’ or ‘Geez, that worked out great.’ Only they really know but, yeah, they’re a little different but, hey, there are a lot of people that use a lot of different approaches to negotiate.”

Let’s take a look at some other notes out of the AFC West…

  • Branion also told Florio that Miller would have been willing to sit out the 2016 season and leave the Broncos the following offseason. “Absolutely, no question,” Branion said. “You know, a lot of people think it’s bluster and all that and sometimes it is, in this case no. It wouldn’t have made any sense. I told him, ‘Look, I treat you like you’re my own son,’ and if in fact this were my son I’d have to tell him you can’t afford to play for the franchise tag, not given your overall value. I mean, he’s a guy that deserves to be in the 19, 20, 21 million dollars a year range and his tag number is only 14. So it would make no sense at all for him to play for one year for [$14 million], risk potentially getting hurt and then be in a position where the team would be able to exclusive tag him yet again next year. Which I don’t see any reason why they wouldn’t do because then the number would still be so far below his value whereas if he had restricted free agency even, as he likely would have in March, he would have made up the difference.”
  • ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano explored what kind of contract Miller would have received if the franchise tag didn’t exist. If the linebacker had inked the contract during the 2015 season, the writer estimated that the contract would have come in around $17MM annually (somewhere between Justin Houston and Ndamukong Suh). If Miller had waited until after the season, he may have approached Suh’s money, and if the 27-year-old had reached the open market, he could have expected a contract that paid at least $22MM a season.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com takes a look at the Chiefs negotiations with safety Eric Berry. The writer believes the veteran’s $10.8MM franchise tag is right around fair value, although Berry is certainly taking a risk by not inking a long-term contract.

Franchise Tag Leftovers: Mo, Miller, T. Johnson

As of last weekend, Muhammad Wilkerson and his camp had all but accepted that a long-term deal with the Jets was not to be, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. But beginning on Wednesday night, when New York began to make a last-ditch effort to retain its franchise player for the long haul, things began to change, as the club sent a new offer to Wilkerson’s agent. Though the star defensive end was angling for a six-year contract, Wilkerson was open to a five-year pact as long it contained an average value and guarantees similar to that of Fletcher Cox, who signed an extension with the Eagles last month. The club responded by emailing a final proposal at 3:15am ET Friday morning, and Wilkerson and his team accepted in time for the paperwork to be completed by Friday’s 4pm ET deadline.

Here’s more on several of the franchise-tagged players:

  • Despite his off-the-field drama, Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson is likely to be more expensive than Wilkerson whenever the club looks to extend him, writes Darryl Slater of NJ.com. While Wilkerson has never been involved in any off-the-field incidents, Richardson served a four-game suspension in 2015 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and is facing a one-game ban in 2016 for a conduct policy infraction. Still, given that the salary cap is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years, Wilkerson should be able to score a large contract. Of course, New York has increased its leverage by locking up Wilkerson and drafting Leonard Williams in the first round last year.
  • While Von Miller is fully guaranteed $42MM under the terms of his extension with the Broncos, the All Pro edge rusher is essentially guaranteed $78.5MM given the structure of the contract, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk details. Because of the payout schedule, Denver would have to accept $32.8MM in dead money in order to cut Miller before March 2018. The next year, $9MM of Miller’s $17.5MM fully guarantees in March, meaning the Broncos would need to be willing to release Miller rather than pay him for one more season at an effective cost of $8.5MM. Jason Fitzgerald of the Sporting News, meanwhile, points out that Miller’s relatively cheap signing bonus ($17MM) means he doesn’t have much dead money protection in the final two years of the deal.
  • The Rams made the right call in not extending cornerback Trumaine Johnson, argues Vincent Bonsignore of InsideSoCal.com. Johnson was largely part-time player prior to 2015, and while he posted a breakout campaign during his first season as a full-time starter, there’s still some uncertainty regarding his play. And given that Johnson had no incentive to sign a new deal that averaged less than his $13.9MM franchise tag, Los Angeles didn’t have much room to negotiate. Instead, the club can use 2016 as a measuring stick, and either franchise Johnson again after the season, or re-engage talks about a long-term deal.
  • As Florio opines in a separate piece, the franchise tag isn’t a bad proposition for the players who didn’t agree to extensions with their respective clubs. Though none of Alshon Jeffery, Kirk Cousins, Eric Berry, or Johnson scored long-term security, they will each be among the highest-paid players at their positions for the upcoming season.

Von Miller’s Agent Sought Trade Permission

As the Broncos and Von Miller‘s camp headed into the final week of negotiations that eventually produced a record-breaking defensive contract, one of the linebacker’s agents brought up a potential trade, Mike Klis of 9News reports.

Joby Branion helped secure the six-year, $114.5MM pact — with $70MM guaranteed — for his client, but when talks weren’t progressing to the agent’s liking, Branion made a formal request to see if he could contact other teams about the prospect of trading for Miller. This came about last weekend after talks with the Broncos intensified.

John Elway submitted the proposal that ended up being the clincher over a two-day period on July 7-8, but Branion countered with an offer that would have included more guaranteed money, Klis reports. But Elway, as he’s shown he’ll do during negotiations in his five-plus years as the Broncos’ GM, held firm on his offer. Branion then told the GM if he wasn’t prepared to consider his counterproposal, then it was possibly within the team’s best interests to consider trading Miller.

The Broncos did not entertain the notion of trading the reigning Super Bowl MVP, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports, with the sixth-year GM viewing the 27-year-old pass-rusher as a cornerstone player.

Elway’s closing pitch came to Miller much earlier in the process than it did last summer when the Broncos reached an extension agreement with Demaryius Thomas minutes before the deadline. That was partially due to a parallel negotiation not existing like it did when the Broncos were talking with Thomas in 2015 and waiting on the Cowboys to close on a deal with Dez Bryant. It also stemmed from the Broncos potentially drawing up trade plans just in case along with Elway having an out-of-the-country vacation trip booked.

It’s unclear if any contingency trade plans were hatched out much, though.

The Broncos would have, of course, held the option of tagging Miller again if he sat out the season but could only use the non-exclusive tag on him if he followed through with that persistent threat. That scenario would have induced a team to exchange a first- and third-round pick for Miller in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Colts, Titans, Brady

Following news of Von Miller‘s record-breaking extension with the Broncos, we’ve started hearing reactions from several of the player’s teammates.

Cornerback Chris Harris appeared on NFL Network earlier this week, and the veteran said he believed Miller’s threats of holding out.

“I believe him,” he said (via Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post). “You’ve got to take his word for it. It would be hard for me to sit out, missing out on $14 million, but I think Von is serious in what he’s saying. I think he truly, this whole time just talking to him, he hates the franchise tag. I definitely think he won’t sign it.”

Meanwhile, offseason addition Mark Sanchez stated his excitement for Miller’s return

“Happy the deal was done in time for camp,” the quarterback said. “I knew both sides had the same goal and now we can start camp with the whole squad.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the AFC…

  • Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com says safety Mike Adams‘ two-year, $4.3MM contract (with $1.2MM guaranteed) is the best on the Colts. Meanwhile, tight end Dwayne Allen was said to have the team’s worst contract at four years and $29.4MM (with $11.5MM guaranteed).
  • After Delanie WalkerCraig Stevens, and Anthony Fasano, the Titans could keep up to two additional tight ends, writes Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com. Phillip Supernaw is currently slotted as the team’s fourth tight end, but Wyatt notes that the team will be eyeing the waiver wire for reinforcement.
  • Meanwhile, Wyatt doesn’t envision undrafted kicker Aldrick Rosas unseating starter Ryan Succop.
  • When it comes to the ‘Deflategate’ fiasco, Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe writes that “the Patriots dug their own grave by behaving like a guilty party from the jump.” The writer notes the hypocrisy of owner Robert Kraft, who initially touted Roger Goodell as commissioner. Quarterback Tom Brady announced yesterday that he wouldn’t be appealing his four-game suspension.

Broncos, Von Miller Agree To Extension

After months of haggling, a deal has finally been reached between the Broncos and star Von Miller, the team confirmed via press release. On Friday afternoon, the two sides shook hands on a six-year agreement which will reportedly pay $114.5MM overall. Most importantly, the deal is said to effectively include $70MM in guarantees to be paid out by March of 2018.

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Here are the details on Miller’s six-year, $114.5MM contract, via Mike Klis of KUSA:

  • The deal will include $23MM in upfront cash (through signing or roster bonus).
  • In total, the deal includes $70MM in guarantees.
  • In 2016, he’ll see a $23MM signing bonus plus $2MM in salary and other bonuses, including his workout bonus. Total $25MM (fully guaranteed).
  • 2017: $17MM in salary, bonuses (fully guaranteed). Total is $42MM after two years.
  • 2018: $19MM in salary, bonuses. (Injury-only guarantee, converts to full guarantee in eight months, or March 17). Total is $61MM after three years.
  • 2019: $17.5MM in salary, bonuses. (Injury-only guarantee but $9MM converts to full guarantee a year earlier, or in March 2018). Total is $78.5MM after four years with $70MM guaranteed.
  • 2020 – 2021: Average of $18MM per year in salary and bonuses. (No guarantees). Total is $114.5MM after six years.

Miller is now the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history in terms of both average annual value and total guaranteed dollars. His contract is also the highest in the league for any non-quarterback. Miller beat out Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in just about every metric, except for his year one payout. Cox secured $27.3MM upfront while Miller received $25MM. After two years, Miller will receive $42MM guaranteed while Cox received $36.3MM. After three years, Miller sees $61MM versus Cox’s $55.55MM.

Weeks ago, Miller and Denver reportedly agreed to the overarching framework of an extension and had informally worked out six-year, $114.5MM contract that would make Miller the league’s highest-paid defensive player on an annual basis. However, those numbers only tell a fraction of the story. Miller’s camp has been pushing for a better guarantee structure with more advantageous triggers (ie. when the guarantees would kick in) with an eye on topping the roughly ~$60MM guaranteed given to Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

The $70MM guaranteed figure refers to “essential guarantees” and we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out exactly what that means. Part of that figure will come via fully guaranteed cash, such as Miller’s signing bonus. The rest of that money will come to Miller in the form of injury guarantees or “effective” guarantees, the latter being money that it would be nearly impossible for Miller not to earn. At some point soon, we’ll know how it’s portioned out. Either way, the majority of Miller’s guarantee will be paid out in the first two years of the contract.

Over the summer, Miller announced that he would sit out the 2016 season if he was not given a satisfactory deal by today’s deadline. Some questioned whether the reigning Super Bowl MVP would make good on that threat, but teammates believed him to be serious. Would Miller really have opted to stay on the couch rather than chase another ring and earn upwards of $14MM? Only No. 58 knows the answer.

Had Miller opted to sit out the 2016 season, the Broncos only would have been able to use the non-exclusive franchise tag on him and would not have had the exclusive franchise tag at their disposal. Typically, a team that is able to pry a player away on the non-exclusive tag would have to forfeit two first-round picks to the former team. However, per the terms of the CBA, the compensation price would have dropped from two first-round picks to a first and a third if Miller were to sit out.

Additional details provided by Adam Schefter and Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos, Von Miller Closing In On Deal

FRIDAY, 12:34pm: We’re at least an hour away from a resolution, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (on Twitter) hears.

10:54am: The two sides are “closing in” on a deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. In addition to the previously reported terms, Miller is set to receive $70MM fully guaranteed by March of 2018.

9:44am: Right now, it’s about a “98% certainty” that Miller will sign the six-year, $114.5MM offer with $70MM guaranteed today, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets.

THURSDAY, 11:02pm: The Broncos and franchise player Von Miller appear to inching closer to an agreement, and the two sides are fully expected to finalize a deal on Friday, according to Mike Klis of 9NEWS, who adds that the club has likely extended its final proposal. Denver is now offering Miller $70MM in guaranteed money, and there is optimism emerging from both camps as talks head in the “right direction,” per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links).Von Miller (Vertical)

[RELATED: Reviewing the 2016 Denver Broncos offseason]

Miller and Denver had already reportedly agreed to the overarching framework of an extension, and had informally worked out six-year, $114.5MM contract that would make Miller the league’s highest-paid defensive player on an annual basis. But the hangup in negotiations has always been guarantee structure and triggers (ie. when the guarantees would kick in), as Miller wants to eclipse the roughly ~$60MM guaranteed to defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

The $70MM guaranteed figure refers to “essential guarantees,” according to Klis, and there’s still some confusion as to what that term means. It could plausibly refer to fully guaranteed cash, and if so, Miller would have secured the largest full guarantee in NFL history. But more likely, given Klis’ wording, the $70MM total is in reference to either injury guarantees or “effective” guarantees, the latter being money that it would be nearly impossible for Miller not to earn. Either way, the majority of Miller’s guarantee will be paid out in the first two years of the contract, report Adam Schefter and Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com.

The Broncos and general manager John Elway submitted a new offer to Miller and his camp over the weekend, and the two sides have apparently been discussing the offer since. Per the ESPN scribes, Denver and Miller’s team did not have “substantive talks” on Thursday, but are expected to reconvene on Friday to further hammer out the deal.

Like all franchise-tagged players, Miller has until 3pm Friday to reach an extension with his club or else will be forced to play out the 2016 season under the franchise tender. However, Miller has been adamant that he will sit out the year instead of playing under the tag, which would fully guarantee him ~$14MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Franchise Tag Contract Deadline Primer

**Updated Friday morning, 10:12am CT**

This afternoon, we’ll know the fates of seven franchise-tagged players for the 2016 season and beyond. If their respective teams do not sign them to long-term contracts by 4pm ET/3pm CT, Broncos linebacker Von Miller, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, Chiefs safety Eric Berry, Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson, and Ravens kicker Justin Tucker will all play out the 2016 season on their one-year franchise tenders.

Will some of these players will reach lucrative multi-year deals between now and Friday afternoon? Or could we see all seven players nudged towards free agency in 2017? Here’s a complete rundown of what’s happening with each of these seven players as the deadline approaches:

Franchise Tag With Text (vertical)

Von Miller, Broncos

This offseason, Von Miller went from Dancing With The Stars to wrestling with the Broncos. Naturally, there is strong mutual interest in a new multi-year deal between Denver and the reigning Super Bowl MVP and the two sides even seem to have agreed upon terms of about $114.5MM over six years. However, there remains a significant gulf between the two sides when it comes to guaranteed money and cashflow in the first couple of years. As we’ve seen before, NFL contract terms are often not what they appear to be on the surface. In this league, you can be promised a small fortune, but it doesn’t mean much unless a significant portion of it is guaranteed and comes early on in the deal when the team values you most. Von Miller (vertical)

Back in June, the Broncos offered up a six-year, $114.5MM deal with nearly $40MM guaranteed in the first two years. However, Miller wanted more in the way of guaranteed cash and wanted a higher payout in the first three years. Soon after, Miller doubled down on his threat to hold out in 2016 if he does not get the multi-year deal that he is after and his teammates say that he’s not bluffing. Would one of the league’s best defensive players and fiercest competitors really stay home all year long rather than chase another ring and earn more than $14MM? It’s hard to imagine, but there’s also considerable incentive for Miller to stick to his guns in this situation.

If Miller opts to sit out the 2016 season, the Broncos will only be able to use the non-exclusive franchise tag on him and will not have the exclusive franchise tag at their disposal. Typically, a team that is able to pry a player away on the non-exclusive tag would have to forfeit two first-round picks to the former team. However, per the terms of the CBA, the compensation price would drop from two first-round picks to a first and a third if Miller were to sit out. Some teams would consider forfeiting two first-round choices to land Miller and even more teams would mull it over if that price drops to a first- and third-round choice.

Reportedly, Miller still harbors resentment towards the Broncos for the way that talks have gone this offseason. However, things could be changing now that Denver has updated their offer to give Miller $70MM in “solid guarantees.”

Because of Miller’s holdout threat, there’s arguably more at stake for the Broncos than the other six teams negotiating with their franchise-tagged stars.

Kirk Cousins, Redskins

After a breakout 2015 season, Kirk Cousins wants to be paid like a top NFL quarterback. The Redskins, meanwhile, want to see him do it all over again in 2016 before committing major dollars to him across a five or six-year period.

Kirk Cousins (Vertical)After watching Brock Osweiler go from backup to baller this offseason, Cousins’ camp is salivating at his potential payday on the open market. For Cousins to forego a shot at free agency down the line, his agents are demanding $43.89MM in guarantees over the first two years of the pact, for starters. Wonder where that number comes from? That’s the combined value of the 2016 franchise tag ($19.95MM) and the franchise tag in 2017 ($23.94MM), if the Redskins were to use it again. If Washington wanted to go for an unprecedented three-peat of franchise tags, it would cost them $34.47MM (!) in 2018.

Cousins earned just $660K in 2015, making him one of the league’s very best values last year. Now, he’s looking to cash in on his next deal and he’s made it clear that he’s willing to bet on himself in 2016. As of this writing, the two sides are not expected to come to an accord by Friday afternoon.

Alshon Jeffery, Bears

Alshon Jeffery is regarded as one of the league’s top wide receivers – when he’s healthy. That’s likely the sticking point for the Bears, who want to see the 26-year-old give them a complete season before they give him enough money to buy his own private island. The 6’3″, 216-pound receiver missed six games during his rookie season because of hand and knee injuries. Last year, he sat out seven contests due to calf, hamstring, groin, and shoulder ailments. Alshon Jeffery (Vertical)

However, despite missing a good chunk of the 2016 season, Jeffery still racked up 54 catches for 807 yards and four touchdowns. Since his breakout campaign in 2013, the former second-round pick has averaged 89 receptions, 1,312 yards, and eight touchdowns per 16 games. Jeffery might not have a perfect attendance record, but he is a true game-changer when he is on the field.

Right now, it doesn’t sound like the Bears are going to get a deal done with Jeffery. GM Ryan Pace doesn’t have any qualms about moving on from players of the past regime and he could theoretically allow Jeffery to walk thanks to the presence of Kevin White.

Continue reading about the rest of this year’s franchise-tagged stars:

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