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New York Giants Must Answer Serious Questions Along Offensive Line This Offseason

February 8th, 2013 at 4:55 PM
By Paul Tierney

Out of all the areas on the Giants roster that need work this offseason, perhaps none is as important as the development of the offensive line. Currently, the Giants have questions to answer at every single position in front of quarterback Eli Manning, which could make patching together a respectable group of linemen a precarious proposition this offseason. With limited salary cap space, two impending free-agents in left tackle Will Beatty and left guard Kevin Boothe and question marks at a number of other positions, Jerry Reese and Co. have a monumental task before them this offseason.

'Eli Manning Under Center' photo (c) 2011, Rajiv Patel (Rajiv's View) - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

The Giants can't afford to let either Beatty or Boothe get away in free agency once the league year begins on March 12th. Unless the team has confidence that James Brewer, Brandon Mosely, Jim Cordle or Matt McCants can step in and contribute next season, there are very few realistic, NFL ready prospects in the draft that will be available at No. 19 this April. Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Chance Wormack and Lane Johnson all have the ability to become top-15 picks. Unless the Giants are willing to trade up, there will not be value along the offensive line at No.19. It's entirely possible a second or third-round pick is ready to start immediately, but that's not something the team can rely on.

Let's take a look at each contributing member of the offensive line in 2012, and examine their situation heading into 2013.

Will Beatty

As stated above, Will Beatty is a free agent this offseason and will be able to field offers from any team in the league. As a left tackle who has the potential to improve over the next few years, the Giants need to sign him to ensure any semblance of an effective offensive line next season. Beatty has a 6'6" and 319 pound frame and showed improved technique last season. Quality left tackle's don't come around very often in the NFL and the Giants have one in Beatty.

That said, the team needs to have a limit on how much they are going to pay him. Obviously, the Giants are tight on salary cap room and will not be able to give him a mega-contract, regardless of their desire to keep him. However, more than that, it's important to realize the Beatty is 28 years old. Similar to running backs, offensive linemen tend to physically regress around the age of 30. That mean's that if the team signs Beatty to a four or five year contract, the latter half of that deal will be for a player on the downside of his career. Unless Beatty's deal is cap friendly in the final two years of the contract, the Giants must be wary of how much money they give him.

Kevin Boothe

Kevin Boothe is a free-agent as well. Boothe, while coming into the season as nothing more than a career backup, proved in 2013 that he has the strength and versatility to play on the interior. Due to his position, Boothe was easily the most overlooked pleasant surprise of Big Blue's 2012 campaign. Although the team had issues along the offensive line at times, Boothe was never one of them.

Unless the team is ready to let Jim Cordle step in, Boothe is practically irreplaceable. He understands the offense, the blocking schemes and provides solid play.  He's going to be 30 next season, so it will be risky to bring Boothe back on a multi-year deal. However, at the right price, it's a risk the Giants may be forced to take.

David Baas

David Baas has not lived up to his 5 year/ $27.5 million contract that he signed before the 2011 season. The Giants don't have a viable replacement on the roster for him, so he likely gets to stay in the roster in 2013. Furthermore, Baas' $6.725 million salary is almost fully guaranteed next season, so he's not going anywhere regardless. However, while many make Baas' performance over the last two years sound like it's been a train wreck, it just hasn't been that.

When he can actually get in the game, Baas is a reliable center in the NFL. He's had health issues in the past that have derailed his play; however, he was the starting center on a Super Bowl championship squad. The Giants can win with him. He just needs to find a way to stay healthy and continue to master the blocking schemes. Easier said than done, but the Giants don't have a choice other than stick with Baas' in 2013.

Chris Snee

Chris Snee is 31 years old and it's clear his play has been in decline for the last several seasons. Snee has even admitted this, as it's impossible for his body to do the same things it was able to do during the early years of his career. Although Snee's current production is nowhere near worthy of his $8.79 million cap hit next season, the Giants have their hands tied at right guard as well.

Snee is still capable of playing productively in the NFL. If he can get healthy over the offseason, he will probably remain one of the best players on the offensive line in 2013. If the Giants can restructure his contract and shave a few million of his salary, that would be ideal. However, Snee would have all the leverage in those talks and it's unlikely he would surrender very much. This is a contract the team will have to sit on until Brandon Mosley is ready, or the team acquires another replacement.

David Diehl

David Diehl was a train wreck last season. He has been an integral aspect of two Super Bowl championship squads and has been (for the most part) a model professional athlete for the duration of his career. However, he proved in 2013 that he is no longer capable of keeping up with the top defensive ends in the NFL

Currently, Diehl stands to count $7.45 million against the 2013 salary cap. It would cost the team $3 million of dead money to cut him, which makes it easy for both the team and the player to find some middle ground. If Diehl refuses to restructure, there is no question he has to go. The Giants can not afford to pay a backup caliber player that kind of money. However, if the Giants can pay Diehl negotiate Diehl's cap hit to the neighborhood of $4 million, it could make sense for the team to keep him around. He still provides versatility, leadership and an advanced knowledge of the offense. As a backup, Diehl still has value.

Sean Locklear

Almost certain to be gone. After suffering a serious knee injury, Locklear will have a tough time finding a contract at 32 years old this offseason. If the Giants find a viable replacement for Diehl at right tackle, there will not be room on the roster for Locklear.

Wrap-Up

The Giants are stuck at a lot of positions on the offensive line. Chris Snee and David Baas have injury issues, but their contract will not allow them to be moved anywhere. Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe have a lot of leverage in their negotiations this offseason, while the team still has no answer at right tackle. The Giants aren't in trouble, but unless one of the younger developmental projects in Brewer, Cordle, Mosley and McCants begin to payoff, the team has more questions than answers in the trenches heading into free agency.

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Tags: Brandon Mosley, Chris Snee, David Baas, David Diehl, Eli Manning, Football, free agent, Jim Cordle, Kevin Boothe, Lane Johnson, Matt McCants, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Will Beatty

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38 Responses to “New York Giants Must Answer Serious Questions Along Offensive Line This Offseason”

  1.  Krow says:

    I don’t care which free agents out of this bunch walk. If they can find a sucker to over pay them then I hope we just wave bye-bye. And that includes both Beatty and Boothe.

    The fastest way to mediocrity is to blow cap dollars on mid-level talent. And that’s what both of these guys are.

    As for Snee and Diehl … $11,000,000 !!! Are we crazy? Diehl is shot. Thanks for your service, but it’s over. And Snee was just OK last year. Despite the joke of a Pro Bowl he had an average year.

    Baas … another decent guy, but avearge.

    Let’s do the math …

    Beatty … $9,000,000
    Boothe … $5,000,000
    Snee … $7,000,000
    Baas … $5,000,000

    That’s $26,000,000 for that collection of chumps and journeymen. No wonder we missed the playoffs. And if this is where we drop 21.4% of our cap then we’re not making the post season next year either. And that even assumes no deal for Diehl.

    Damn … c’mon man.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      I don’t think it’s fair to lump Beatty with the other players. He played at a high level this year and is still improving. 9 mil is about the market for a LT at the level he performed at last year. I posted a link a few weeks ago that had the top LT salaries and Beatty falls into the 8-9 mil range.

      Boothe is a good player, better than some think but is not worth 5 mil. Given our cap position i think about 3 mil is what he will be offered. Snee needs to take a pay cut. Bass probably gets one more year without a pay reduction or even being cut. That’s about what quality centers make and it probably is best to give him one more year to see if he can perform to that level.

      When you sign free agent you pay market value. We have got by on relatively cheap skill players besides Eli because we keep on drafting talent rather than paying our own free agents or outside ones.

      •  Krow says:

        No he didn’t play at a high level. As FF55 said, ‘B … B+’. Which is damn good, but not franchise money good. And after 4 years he’s probably not going to improve much. $9 mil for him … but we let Cruz walk over similar money? How is that logical? Cause Cruz actually did play at a high level. A Pro Bowl level.

        The rest we totally agree on.

        •  GOAT56 says:

          High level meaning that 10 LTs didn’t outplay him last year. I’m not saying he’s top 5 but he is at least around the top 10 if not in the top 10 based on last year’s performance. He only played 2 years and most get better with more playing time. He’s more on the upward development than most players at 27.

          Beatty outplayed Cruz based on 2012 and LT is a more important position that #2 WR anyways. Cruz didn’t play 2012 on a pro bowl level just like Eli didn’t, their invitations were just making up for 2011.

          •  Krow says:

            Beatty outplayed Cruz !!! Seriously? I mean was anyone talking about Beatty? Did you hear any announcers saying how Beatty clowned his man? How Beatty plowed open a hole?

            I’m not down on him … I like the guy and want him resigned. But he’s becoming a myth.

          •  Dirt says:

            C’mon man. Beatty didn’t outplay Cruz.

    •  Chad Eldred says:

      A-freaking-men!

  2.  Samardzija says:

    When was the last time 3 corners were taken before 19th? I have a feeling one of the two “second tier” guys are going to be there. Either Xavier Rhodes or Jonathan Banks would be excellent. I dont think Trufant fits the mold Jerry usually goes for

    •  Krow says:

      Draft Tek has us going defense 1,2,3.

    •  Paul Tierney says:

      This draft is weird. There are very few skill players worthy of a first-round pick, and no legit quarterback prospects at that. Very heavy on linemen on both sides of the football, as well and defensive backs. I’m not saying you are wrong in your assumption, but if there was going to be a year for a wacky draft, this would be it.

    •  G-MenFan says:

      I think you’re right about a really good corner being there. I also think they’ll be a really good DE and OT there as well.
      It will come down to Reese’s value board and who’s at the top when his pick rolls around, but I really can’t see it being anything other than an OL, DE, or CB to be honest.

  3.  GOAT56 says:

    Repost:

    G-MenFan says:
    February 8, 2013 at 3:23 PM
    The Giants are taking either an O-lineman or a DE in the first round. Not an ILB. The position has been devalued by defensive schemes. I’m not saying it’s not important to have a run-stopping MLB. I’m just saying that a team like the Giants is unlikely to value the position as a first round pick. It’s a two-down position on the Giants defense.

    Reply
    GOAT56 says:
    February 8, 2013 at 4:10 PM
    MLB is not necessarily a two down position in our defense. The issue is that the MLB has been good enough to leave on the field on 3rd down in pass coverage. That’s why I look at Alec Ogletree and think he could be worth it if we see him as an MLB. A three down MLB that excels in coverage would be valuable in our system. We don’t value Lbs highly but neither did we value RBs highly before selecting Wilson last year. I think LB is far from a lock but it’s certainly a possibility.

    Reply
    LUZZ says:
    February 8, 2013 at 4:31 PM
    GOAT – I like ogletree too. In fact, he’s the guy i want in April. But at 230lbs, I don’t think he’s projecting as an MLB at all. He’s was a converted Safety at UGA.

    Reply
    GOAT56 says:
    February 8, 2013 at 5:20 PM
    He’s that weight now but he’s a 3rd year junior and still could be growing. He’s the type of prospect that could should up to the combine at 240-245. Urlacher was a converted safety too.

  4.  CT GIANT says:

    Who is in charge of draft picks? One look at “previous drafts” where they were front loaded with Road Monsters, Tyron Smith, Nate Solder, Lupica, no not all great, BUT, now were stuck with an aging o-line that Mr. Reese overlooked, instead looking for bargains in the later rounds, the only exception , Beatty in the 2ND.
    So if Reese gets all the great reviews of picking a JPP or The Prince, then he sure deserves the blame for the mess the o-line is in at present.
    Just my 2cents.
    CT GIANT

    •  GOAT56 says:

      You can pick 3 players with one first round pick. If you would have liked an OL player drafted in the first round then you have to take back Prince, Wilson, Nicks, JPP or KP from the past 5 drafts. You can’t attack every position with the same investment. OL has been handled more by free agents and later round picks than other positions. It’s a calculation the JR made and it has brought us 2 SBs. We do need some injection of OL talent but we still have a lot of unknowns with our recent drafts of OL players. Positions many time end up much weaker or stronger than they appear from afar. It’s way too easy to say the OL is in a mess. It’s in a crossroads and we will see how JR handles it.

      •  G-MenFan says:

        This is a good post and a good point. I don’t consider the O-line to be in a shambles. It needs to be addressed, but I wouldn’t trade any of our first-round picks for a lineman right now. In Reese We Trust.

  5.  GOAT56 says:

    I disagree about OL regressing at a similar rate of RBs. I have seen plenty of excellent 32 year OL but very few excellent 32 year RBs. there are valid concerns about Beatty but I don’t think giving him a long tern contract due to his age is one of them.

    •  Krow says:

      You know it’s funny you mention that. Because OL used to be THE longest career position hands down. Teams would build around the OL because they played so long.

      But slowly that sort of changed. And the only reason I can come up with is PEDs. They’re getting too huge … too ripped … and just breaking down sooner.

      •  Dirt says:

        Defensive linemen are also huge now. It’s why a power rushing attack is an antique. These offensive linemen get mauled.

        Hell we got Shaun Rogers again. Good luck with that, other guys.

        •  rlhjr says:

          The size of O-linemen is now on average 330 lbs. After a while (4 or 5 years) the knee joint starts to turn to jelly. They do not keep their feet moving because they are just so large. When they get rolled up on by a back or another lineman…..snap crackel…pop….careere over.

          D-lineman on average are lighter and way more athletic. Some DT are big boys, but DE go anywhere from 255 to 275. Their joints last longer due to less weight to support. There are always exceptions and there is no substitute for genetics. That’s the only way to carry that much weight naturally and be able to move athletically. See Fridge Peery.

  6.  shmitty013 says:

    “He’s basically getting rid of the guys before they expire, so to speak,’’ Petitgout said.

    The man knows what time it is. Just as Simms was a first for the former general manager, George Young, Petitgout was the first for Reese back in 2007, the first big-ticket player to be shown the door not long after Reese took the baton from Ernie Accorsi. A reliable left tackle, Petitgout was a first-round pick from Notre Dame and he lasted eight years with the Giants. He still recalls he was “shocked’’ around Valentine’s Day in 2007 when he was summoned into Tom Coughlin’s office.

    In the weeks that followed, Petitgout did not hide his bitterness, at the time claiming he was “basically kicked off the club” by Reese.

    “I wasn’t exactly Mary Poppins on my way out,’’ Petitgout said six years later. “I think that’s just because I love the Giants. That’s really what the bottom line is. It hurts a player to the soul. It’s like back to the playground days of the last guy to get picked, that kind of deal.’’

    Does Reese have a plan? Of course. He had a plan heading into the 2011 season, when he was accused of being asleep at the switch, seemingly oblivious as Steve Smith and Kevin Boss signed elsewhere, seemingly uncaring as the “Dream Team’’ Eagles were loading up in a free agent signing bonanza. No doubt, Reese would have preferred to gamble on Bradshaw’s toughness and retained Canty’s leadership but clearly, the GM doesn’t think either player has much left in the tank.

    Reese is rarely wrong. As a former scout, his eye for talent isn’t confined to youngsters. Smith and Boss haven’t done a thing and haven’t stayed healthy. He traded away Jeremy Shockey. He did not re-sign Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward or Amani Toomer. He cut Shaun O’Hara, Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie. He didn’t think Antonio Pierce’s neck was sound enough to continue playing. He passed on bringing back Plaxico Burress. In the same purge that caught Petitgout, Reese also jettisoned Carlos Emmons and LaVar Arrington. Did any of these players prove Reese wrong?

    “They’re always looking for younger, cheaper,’’ Petitgout said. “Just like getting new tires on your car.’’

    There’s no malice in Petitgout’s voice. He broke his leg late in the 2006 season and knew he was delaying the inevitable by opting against surgery on his ailing back. He had two years left on his contract at $5 million a year when Reese showed him the door. Petitgout signed with the Buccaneers but played in only four games, first hurting his back again and then tearing up his knee.

    “The Giants are a family,’’ Petitgout said. “It’s something tough to accept, like when a girlfriend dumps you. They know when your time is up. Some guys may buck the trend and have a good couple years after that but if you’ve been there a long time, they know your medical history, they know your aches and pains, they usually make the right decision.

    “I basically had a time bomb in my back and when I went to Tampa it went off. The Giants knew what they were doing.’’

    Back in the area after five years in Tampa, Petitgout lives in Bergen County and passes Metlife Stadium on his way to work. He’s the co-owner of a compounding pharmacy called ReadyScrip and when he visits the Giants he’s welcomed back with open arms.

    “I was mad at the time, I harbored some ill will for a while,’’ he said. “Time has healed everything. My time with the Giants, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.’’

    •  shmitty013 says:

      Somehow this got cut off but this was the start of the article:

      Wellington Mara called it “a day of overwhelming sadness’’ as the Giants tossed Phil Simms onto the scrap heap, making him the first high-profile salary cap casualty in franchise history. This was after the 1993 season. While few, if any, of the player releases that followed have been as emotional, this latest barrage is a reminder of the NFL life cycle.

      “It’s a machine,’’ Luke Petitgout told The Post yesterday. “Players think they have the power and the leverage. It’s the team. It never stops. It spits people out left and right.’’

      The machine this week churned out linebacker Michael Boley, defensive tackle Chris Canty and, most cruelly, running back Ahmad Bradshaw, whom Giants fans might view the way Dorothy lamented Scarecrow, knowing she would miss him most of all. More could follow. Players who contributed to a Super Bowl championship and, in Bradshaw’s case, two of them, are always more difficult to send packing. Some may laud general manager Jerry Reese for his decisiveness, but the real trick is to find replacements because right now, today, the Giants aren’t any better than they were a few days ago.

  7.  Jason McEwan says:

    “He has been an integral aspect of two Super Bowl championship squads”

    Not entirely true, the last superbowl run he was dreadful. PFF rated him the worst Tackle that year.

  8.  shmitty013 says:

    Also suggest everyone read this article about the upcoming Free Agency period. Names the players with their positions:

    http://www.rotoworld.com/articles/nfl/42496/309/free-agency-update

    I’m gonna post the positions I think we have the biggest needs at:

    1. Cornerback

    This position is loaded with quality NFL starters, and the prohibitive $10.67 million cornerback franchise number ensures it will stay that way. Aqib Talib, 27, Brent Grimes, 29, Sean Smith, 25, Chris Houston, 28, Derek Cox, 26, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, 26, all have experience as No. 1 corners, and of them only Grimes will be 30 years old when the 2013 season starts.

    Super Bowl champ Cary Williams, 28, is believed to be looking to break the bank and may have trouble landing the lucrative deal he desires. E.J. Biggers, 25, Antoine Cason, 26, Keenan Lewis, 26, and Mike Jenkins, 27, could be more affordable targets with their best football ahead of them. Bradley Fletcher, 26, and Greg Toler, 28, are potential diamonds in the rough. Darius Butler, 26, Brice McCain, 26, Kyle Arrington, 26, and D.J. Moore, 25, can cover the slot on passing downs. Pacman Jones, 29, is coming off a quietly solid season as Cincinnati’s nickel back. Jerraud Powers, 25, and Tracy Porter, 26, are intriguing “rehab” projects after injury-affected years.

    Obviously past their primes, Sheldon Brown, 33, Quentin Jammer, 33, Terence Newman, 34, and Rashean Mathis, 32, each may have a year or two left as solid starting cornerbacks in the league. Brown, Jammer, and Mathis could potentially extend their careers by converting to safety.

    Although former first-round pick Leodis McKelvin has not panned out as a cover corner, he is still only 27 and led the NFL in 2012 punt return average while bringing back two punts to the house.

    2. Offensive Tackle

    If cornerback is the gold standard in 2013 free agency, offensive tackle isn’t far behind. Even with Clady off the board, Andre Smith, 26, Branden Albert, 28, Jake Long, 27, Sebastian Vollmer, 28, Will Beatty, 27, Gosder Cherilus, 28, Phil Loadholt, 27, Jermon Bushrod, 28, and Sam Baker, 27, all have extensive, successful track records as strong NFL starters and will be paid accordingly.

    Since the positions are valued differently inside the NFL, offensive tackles can be halved into left and right. Left tackles are the highest paid O-Line position. Right tackles are viewed as inferior, although the league’s best running teams unfailingly field high-impact tackle play on the right side.

    Albert, Long, Beatty, Bushrod, Baker, and Bryant McKinnie, 33, are the best left tackles free agency has to offer. Smith, Vollmer, Cherilus, and Loadholt are difference makers on the right side. Vollmer is especially intriguing because he possesses athleticism and length to play both tackle spots, and made five starts on Tom Brady’s blindside as a rookie in 2009. If Vollmer hits free agency — and the Patriots will probably make sure that he does not — it’s conceivable that interested teams would view him as a left tackle, setting up Vollmer for a monster pay day.

    5. Defensive Tackle

    There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Desmond Bryant, 27, but you need to get used to it. He’s going to be a very hot free agent. I recall watching tape of offensive skill position players last offseason, and defensive end No. 90 for Oakland kept showing up. In 2012, Bryant kicked inside to replace injured Richard Seymour and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 overall defensive tackle. He was the best player on a bad defense. A Harvard alum with a scheme-versatile body (6’6/311), Bryant will appeal to 3-4 teams as a five-technique end and 4-3 clubs at interior tackle.

    Almost like offensive tackle, defensive tackle can be split into two parts: Pass rushers and run-plugging space eaters. The best free-agent interior pass rushers are Bryant, Henry Melton, 26, Randy Starks, 29, Jason Jones, 26, Seymour, 33, Chris Canty, 30, Glenn Dorsey, 27, and Corey Williams, 32.

    The top free-agent space eaters include “Pot Roast” Terrance Knighton, 26, Isaac Sopoaga, 31, Vance Walker, 25, Casey Hampton, 35, Roy Miller, 25, Sammie Lee Hill, 26, and Pat Sims, 27.

    13. Inside Linebacker

    I haven’t studied up much yet on this year’s draft-eligible inside linebacker class. But if it isn’t stocked with talent, your team is in trouble if it needs a starter inside. Rey Maualuga, 26, is a poor starter and he’s among the best free agency can offer. Brian Urlacher’s 34-year-old knees are shot. Tim Dobbins, 30, is a major liability in coverage. Dannell Ellerbe, 27, is a candidate to get overpaid on the heels of his team’s Super Bowl win.

    Perhaps the one free agent inside linebacker worth the longest look for needy teams is Brad Jones, a 26-year-old converted pass rusher who more than adequately replaced D.J. Smith for the Packers in 2012. Jones started ten games and outplayed A.J. Hawk. Teams still figure to be wary of Jones because his experience inside is so limited.

    •  G-MenFan says:

      Awesome job here.
      I think there are going to be some great values late in the draft. However, the draft is front-loaded with talent at positions of need for us. I think this will be a very very good draft for Reese.

  9.  fanfor55years says:

    Been on the Jerry Reese bus (and was also towing the Marc Ross truck behind it) for a long time.

    Who on this site invented “Reese’s Pieces”? Okay corny, but it’s mine. And while I wasn’t the one who came up with In Reese We Trust, I remember making it clear way back in 2005 that this guy is brilliant at personnel evaluation because of his scouting background.

    None of us have to worry. Reese always has a plan, and is always looking 2-3 years out. He will miss once in awhile, but almost never on a BIG decision. We’re in very good hands.

  10.  rlhjr says:

    I would love to reshuffle this offensive line and infuse it with youth and vigor.
    However, I would also love to see Eli play another 5 or 6 years without major injury. It would have to be one hell of a group of youngsters to catch everything savvy defenders and coordinators throw at a O-line. One miscue could cost you your QB.

    Hopefully there is a solution that does not include Diehl and Snee or maybe Bass. That payroll that Krow displayed is sickening. Way too much $$ for the level of play. Like I said, I don’t envy Jerry Reese.

    Before putting the great running back blocking fiasco to bed, I think some missed a sign when Bradshaw was released. That means that someone within the Giants organization who knows what he is talking about and has the authority to make such moves feels that Wilson and Brown are good enough blockers to keep Eli healthy. I think that fact may have escaped the collective.

    •  fanfor55years says:

      Not me. First, I’ve said I’m sure a world-class, tough, athlete can be taught to block. Second, no way would they plan on having Wilson and brown as their top backs if they weren’t fully confident each could protect Eli perfectly well.

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