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2024 NFL offseason: All 32 teams' RB situations ahead of free agency, draft

With free agency around the corner and the 2024 NFL Draft coming up in April, Kevin Patra assesses the running back situations of all 32 teams in the NFL. Teams are listed in alphabetical order along with the top RBs under contract for 2024, as well as key players who are not under contract for next season. Those RBs are denoted as unrestricted free agents (UFA), restricted free agents (RFA), exclusive rights free agents (ERFA) or street free agent (SFA); (void) indicates remaining years on a contract will be voided, enabling the player to become a free agent.

NOTE: Unless otherwise specified, cap figures come from Over The Cap.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: James Conner, Michael Carter, Emari Demercado, Tony Jones (reserve/futures)

Key free agents: Marlon Mack (UFA)

Conner finally hit that elusive 1,000-yard campaign in Year 7 -- and it took him only 13 games to get there. The Cards' running game was noticeably different with Conner on the field. Even with the RB turning 29 in May, he still provides power to rip through tackles and bulldoze defenders. Conner enters the final year of his contract, but this could be one of those rare times that a short extension makes sense for both sides. Conner could get some stability heading into his 30s while the Cards get some cost-effective cap relief to use elsewhere. The injury concerns are the biggest reason for Arizona to ride out the wave. Adding a young draft pick at the position makes sense, unless general manager Monti Ossenfort is willing to simply figure out the backfield as he goes each year.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, Avery Williams, Tucker Fisk (FB)

Key free agents: Cordarrelle Patterson (UFA), Keith Smith (FB; UFA)

Bijan Robinson wants 2,000 yards rushing. Here's hoping he gets his wish. I do think new offensive coordinator Zac Robinson will lean more on one primary back than Arthur Smith did. Assuming Z-Rob follows the tendency of his former boss, Sean McVay, whose offense has always operated better with one gashing back, Bijan should see the bulk of the totes. But Allgeier is no slouch and warrants some touches this season. They'll need depth in case of injury, but the Falcons are in solid shape, particularly if Avery Williams returns healthy from a season-long injury. He could add some pass-catching ability and explosiveness to pair with Robinson and Allgeier.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Keaton Mitchell, Justice Hill, Patrick Ricard (FB)

Key free agents: Gus Edwards (UFA), J.K. Dobbins (UFA), Dalvin Cook (UFA), Melvin Gordon (SFA)

The Ravens are a club that could go big-name fishing in the RB free-agent pool. Mitchell was a fun player, but his gruesome season-ending injury puts Baltimore in a tenuous situation at running back. Dobbins' injury history likely ends his run. Edwards could be brought back cheaply. While they have a ton of their own free agents to retain, I expect Ravens brass to try to pluck one of the free agents, depending on the asking price. Derrick Henry is the biggest name connected to Baltimore, but that addition would depend on how Todd Monken sees him fitting into the offense. Josh Jacobs would look lovely in that backfield alongside Lamar Jackson. D'Andre Swift might provide the ideal combo of production and affordability if the Eagles let him out of the building. Regardless of which player, the Ravens need someone to take some of the load off Jackson.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: James Cook, Nyheim Hines, Reggie Gilliam (FB)

Key free agents: Ty Johnson (UFA), Latavius Murray (UFA), Damien Harris (UFA)

Cook displayed workhorse ability, particularly finding a groove following last season's changeover at offensive coordinator. He can improve in the pass game and blitz pick-up in Year 3, but he's done enough to prove he can carry the load. Hines is likely a cut candidate after missing all of 2023 following a boat accident. The addition of a low-cost complement -- like Johnson, who could be retained after playing well down the stretch -- or a proven pass catcher is all the cap-strapped Bills should earmark for the position in 2024.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Chuba Hubbard, Miles Sanders, Mike Boone (reserve/futures), Spencer Brown (reserve/futures), Tarik Cohen (reserve/futures)

Key free agents: Raheem Blackshear (ERFA), Giovanni Ricci (FB; RFA)

Here is the kicker for all RBs looking for a new contract: Miles Sanders' deal last year (four years, $25 million) wasn't even outrageous. Yet, it still looks costly after the back generated 432 yards in 16 games with a career-low 3.3 yards per carry. With $6 million guaranteed this year, he'll stick around at least one more season. Hubbard was the Panthers' most effective back, but he, too, averaged just 3.8 yards per tote. Turns out poor offensive line play will hurt the entire operation. Both Hubbard and Sanders should fit into new head coach Dave Canales' system. The Panthers' offseason needs to focus on upgrading the line and receivers crew.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Khalil Herbert, Roschon Johnson, Travis Homer, Khari Blasingame (FB)

Key free agents: D'Onta Foreman (UFA)

The Bears have gotten solid production from Herbert when healthy, and he's able to keep the offense in good down-and-distance situations. But is he a difference-making talent? Likewise, Johnson showed flashes but didn't see the ball enough to show if he has staying power. Johnson was the Bears' best receiver out of the backfield, but 34 catches for 209 yards isn't exactly ground-breaking. Chicago has bigger needs, but a pass-catching back who can make the QB's life easier is on the wish list.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Joe Mixon, Chase Brown, Chris Evans

Key free agents: Trayveon Williams (UFA)

Will Mixon be cut? He took a pay reduction to stay in Cincinnati last season. The Bengals could be ready to move on if they're to keep Tee Higgins in town. Cutting Mixon would save Cincy $5.75 million on the cap with $2.75 million in dead money. Jettisoning the veteran would remove some of the power running game from the offense, but the 27-year-old lacked explosive plays this season. The big question is whether Cincinnati trusts Chase Brown to carry a more significant load while supplementing the backfield via the draft (i.e., the less-costly option). Of course, Bengals brass could try to squeeze Mixon for another pay cut if he doesn't like the look of the RB market.  

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Nick Chubb, Jerome Ford, Pierre Strong Jr., John Kelly Jr. (reserve/futures)

Key free agents: Kareem Hunt (UFA)

Football can be a brutal business. Nothing would highlight that more than the fact that the Browns might have to consider cutting Chubb. Given their fiscal situation, saving $11.825 million by releasing the running back might be GM Andrew Berry's shrewdest move. Who knows if Chubb, entering his age-29 season, will return to form in 2024 after his nasty knee injury? An extension to significantly lower the $15.825 cap number this season is possible, but how much do the Browns want to go into the future, not knowing how he'll bounce back? A year ago, the thought of dumping Chubb would have been laughed off. Now it's a reality staring Cleveland in the face.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Deuce Vaughn, Hunter Luepke (FB), Malik Davis (reserve/futures), Snoop Conner (reserve/futures)

Key free agents: Tony Pollard (UFA), Rico Dowdle (UFA)

The Tony Pollard Lead Back experiment didn't have quite the pop the Cowboys hoped for in 2023. His YPC dropped 1.2 from 2022 to 2023, while he earned nearly 60 more carries. Pollard played last season on a $10.1 million franchise tag, but the Cowboys aren't in a position to bring him back for a similar salary. The dual-threat back is likely to have more luck finding a multi-year deal elsewhere. Dallas could bring Dowdle back relatively cheaply, but currently, they lack any semblance of a lead runner. Might Jerry Jones' plan to go all in include a splash RB like Josh Jacobs? Maybe, but given the team's cap situation, I'd expect Dallas to look for a less-costly, short-term option while using a mid-round pick on a rookie. Zack Moss might be a nice fit in that scenario. You know what wouldn't surprise me? To see Ezekiel Elliott return to Dallas on an incentive-laden deal.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Javonte Williams, Samaje Perine, Jaleel McLaughlin, Tyler Badie (reserve/futures)

Key free agents: Dwayne Washington (UFA), Michael Burton (FB; UFA)

This backfield feels set. Williams remains a tackle-breaker who should be better a year removed from his 2022 injury after an up-and-down 2023. Often, it's the second year after a significant knee injury that we see RBs returning to form. Perine offers a good blend of running and pass-catching ability and is a guy Sean Payton is comfortable with in two-minute sets. McLaughlin is the jitterbug back who can create explosive plays. Given the Broncos' cap situation and other areas of need, it's not a position where they must add. It is crucial, however, for the top trio to find better production than it did last year. Williams returning fully to his pre-injury form should help.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs, Jermar Jefferson (reserve/futures), Jake Funk (reserve/futures)

Key free agents: Craig Reynolds (ERFA), Zonovan Knight (ERFA)

Detroit's backfield revamp couldn't have gone much better, with both Montgomery (the veteran free-agent addition) and Gibbs (the first-round draft pick) cracking 1,100 scrimmage yards. I expect Gibbs to see an uptick in snaps but not significantly. Both these backs feed off each other well in Ben Johnson's offense, so depth is about all the Lions will be looking to add this offseason.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Aaron Jones

Key free agents: A.J. Dillon (UFA), Patrick Taylor (RFA), Emanuel Wilson (ERFA), Josiah Deguara (FB; UFA)

Yes, Aaron Jones' $17 million cap figure is untenable. No, that doesn't mean he'll be cut. I would presume that, like last offseason, a middle ground can be found where Jones takes less and the Packers get some relief but keep their most consistent offensive weapon in town. A one- or two-year extension for the 29-year-old makes sense. Jones is far too valuable for the rest of Matt LaFleur's young offense to part with at this stage. I could see Dillion returning, but only if it's on a cost-effective, short deal. For Brian Gutekunst, it could make sense to add a mid-round draft pick to the mix -- someone who could be ready to take over the mantle from Jones in the next couple of years.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Dameon Pierce, Andrew Beck (FB), Troy Hairston (FB)

Key free agents: Devin Singletary (UFA), Dare Ogunbowale (UFA)

Two fullbacks and Dameon Pierce -- welcome to the 2024 Houston Texans' offseason. The Texans have a load of their own free agents to sift through, including in the backfield, where Singletary became the lead dog as DeMeco Ryans' club pushed to the postseason. Houston is likely to add two backs to the mix this offseason. The question is whether GM Nick Caserio goes big-game hunting for names like Saquon Barkley or Josh Jacobs or plays it conservatively once again in the backfield, searching for another Singletary-like asset. The Texans could use an early-down runner to pair with Pierce and a pass-catching third-down back to help boost the offense to the next level. 

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Jonathan Taylor, Evan Hull, Tyler Goodson

Key free agents: Zack Moss (UFA), Trey Sermon (RFA)

Moss played a key role for the Colts this season when Taylor was sidelined. But with Indy sinking money into Taylor -- $10.8 million cap figure in 2024 -- it feels like a situation where only a team-friendly discount would keep Moss in Indy for another season. The Colts paid Taylor to be the workhorse, and when healthy, he remains among the best backs in the NFL. Injury concerns the past two seasons, however, necessitate Indy having a backup plan at the position -- just not an expensive one.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Travis Etienne Jr., Tank Bigsby

Key free agents: D’Ernest Johnson (UFA)

It was the Travis Etienne extravaganza in 2023, as the former first-round pick generated his second consecutive 1,000-plus-yard rushing season. However, his efficiency dropped from 5.1 yards per tote in 2022 to 3.8 yards per carry in 2023. That was partly due to overall offensive issues, including some poor blocking and play-caller Press Taylor's decision to get away from the run game for long stretches. Etienne remains a dynamic dual-threat back who will remain the workhorse in 2024. The hope is, better surroundings will boost that consistency back up. The question is, who will spell Etienne? Bigsby was drafted in the third round last year to be that guy but rarely saw the field. Perhaps it was simply rookie growing pains, but in the final seven weeks, Bigsby averaged just over three offensive snaps per game, and only once did he see the field for 10-plus plays (Week 17 blowout win over Carolina). Jacksonville needs more out of him in 2024.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Isiah Pacheco, La'Mical Perine, Deneric Prince (reserve/futures), Keaontay Ingram (reserve/futures)

Key free agents: Jerick McKinnon (UFA), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (UFA)

Pacheco remains the lifeblood of the backfield, which shouldn't change. But it's a shallow group behind him. McKinnon missed a chunk of the season and most of the postseason run. However, his critical catches in the Super Bowl underscore the essential role he still has in Andy Reid's offense. Unless he plans to retire, turning 32 in May, McKinnon returning to K.C. makes sense. He's more valuable to the Chiefs than he would be to any other team. CEH, a former first-round pick, meanwhile, could head for new pastures. Prince garnered praise in training camp but spent most of the season on the practice squad. He could be one low-cost option to take on a more prominent role. Kansas City has bigger fish to fry than the backfield, but finding someone it trusts to spell Pacheco or a pass catcher if McKinnon walks away are low-level needs. Adding a receiving option like Austin Ekeler could be a sneaky way to supplement the air attack without paying big bucks to WRs, but would depend on how Ekeler's market shakes out.  

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Zamir White, Brittain Brown

Key free agents: Josh Jacobs (UFA), Brandon Bolden (UFA), Ameer Abdullah (UFA), Austin Walter (RFA), Jakob Johnson (FB; UFA)

Does Tom Telesco want his first significant move as Raiders GM to be signing a big running back contract? Given how he handled the Austin Ekeler situation in L.A., I'd tend to think not, but Vegas has given little indication on how it plans to approach Jacobs. The 26-year-old remains one of the best backs in the NFL, but will the Raiders give him a Jonathan Taylor-type deal coming off the worst season of his career? Telesco unearthed Ekeler with the Chargers, so he might feel he can find a suitable replacement -- of course, the GM also struggled to find a complement out of the backfield for years. White showed promise last season in games Jacobs missed and would be in line for a significant workload if Vegas lets the former Pro Bowler walk.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Isaiah Spiller, Jaret Patterson (reserve/futures)

Key free agents: Austin Ekeler (UFA), Joshua Kelley (UFA)

Whether with Toby Gerhart or Stepfan Taylor at Stanford, Frank Gore in San Francisco or Hasaan Haskins or Blake Corum at Michigan, Jim Harbaugh's best offenses have been spearheaded by a power running game. L.A. currently doesn't employ that element. Ekleler has been the straw that stirs the drink for years, but with no ties to the new staff and an awful cap situation, it's hard to imagine him returning. The Chargers will need to find playmakers to fit Harbaugh's vision. Given the lack of cap space L.A. is staring at, the main answers are likely to come through the draft in 2024.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Kyren Williams, Zach Evans

Key free agents: Royce Freeman (UFA), Ronnie Rivers (ERFA)

Williams burst out, earning a Pro Bowl nod after rushing for 1,144 yards and 12 TDs on 228 carries in just 12 games. His 95.3 yards per game led the NFL in 2023. He's the perfect slashing runner for this phase of the Sean McVay offense. Williams' pass-catching must improve, and his pass protection could use work, but he should remain the focal point of the ground game. Retaining Freeman or adding another veteran backup makes the most sense to provide depth and handle the load if injury strikes again.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: De'Von Achane, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., Chris Brooks, Alec Ingold (FB)

Key free agents: Salvon Ahmed (UFA)

Achane is a lightning bolt out of the backfield who can turn a simple toss play into a home run. I expect him to get more opportunities in Year 2, provided the injury issues aren't chronic. Turning 32 in April, Mostert continues to go strong and perfectly fits Mike McDaniel's scheme. He's under contract for another year with a cap number of $3.36 million, and it makes sense to keep him paired with Achane. Mostert and Wilson signed similar two-year deals last offseason, but the latter is likely a cut candidate, as the Dolphins swim in cap hell. Releasing Wilson, who saw just 41 carries last season, would save them $2.89 million on the cap.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Ty Chandler, Alexander Mattison, Kene Nwangwu, C.J. Ham (FB), DeWayne McBride (reserve/futures), Myles Gaskin (reserve/futures)

Key free agents: Cam Akers (RFA)

Well, the post-Dalvin Cook plan didn't exactly work out. Mattison looked like the backup he's always been, just with more carries. Chandler showed flashes but never seemed to get the staff's complete trust. And Akers tore his Achilles just as he started to take on a more prominent role. There looks to be a need here, but I don't expect GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to spend many assets on the position. It's simply not how they want to operate. Plus, Kevin O'Connell never seemed very interested in running the ball. The Vikings have finished 28th in rush attempts in each of his two seasons at the helm.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Rhamondre Stevenson, Kevin Harris, JaMycal Hasty, KeShawn Vaughn (reserve/futures)

Key free agents: Ezekiel Elliott (UFA)

Stevenson wants to be a three-down workhorse and deserves a chance at that role. Elliott should be allowed to walk, with the Patriots focusing most of their offseason attention on the O-line and wide receivers. Riding Stevenson and a few young early-down runners makes sense. If the Patriots are to add significantly to the group, I'd suggest a primary pass-catching back, a component they've missed since James White's injury in 2021.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Alvin Kamara, Jamaal Williams, Kendre Miller, James Robinson (reserve/futures)

Key free agents: Eno Benjamin (UFA), Adam Prentice (FB; RFA)

I understand the thought that Kamara could be cut or traded, given his age, contract and waning production. I simply don't subscribe to the idea. Kamara remains the Saints' best backfield option. Saints brass is in win-now mode, and Kamara is part of that calculus. I do think Kamara, turning 29 in July, fits well into the type of offense Klint Kubiak will run. Miller deserves more reps in Year 2 after flashing down the stretch. And the Saints actually need to use Williams at the goal line. Of all the frustrating parts of the New Orleans season, the fact that they signed a goal-line TD maker in the offseason and refused to use him in that role was among the top hair-pullers. Made no sense. Hopefully, Kubiak has better designs.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Gary Brightwell, Eric Gray, Jashaun Corbin, Deon Jackson (reserve/futures)

Key free agents: Saquon Barkley (UFA), Matt Breida (UFA)

We'll know soon enough whether the Giants will use yet another franchise tag on Barkley this offseason. The maneuver last offseason, coupled with the lack of an extension, left the running back sounding jaded in 2024. New York GM Joe Schoen sounds like he has a figure in mind for the running back position and isn't willing to budge. At this stage, it feels like a break would be best for all parties. However, that would leave Big Blue thin at running back. They've struggled to generate traction in recent seasons when Barkley was out. Filling that void would likely take multiple backs.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Breece Hall, Israel Abanikanda, Xazavian Vallady, Nick Bawden (FB; reserve/futures)

Key free agents: N/A

The Dalvin Cook experiment was a bust, ultimately leading to his release. Gang Green tried to go young in the backfield and ended up with the Breece Hall Show. The dynamic back took 223 of the 320 RB carries in 2023. Given his big-play ability, it's hard to fault the Jets for force-feeding Hall. If the offense improves in 2024 and does not go three-and-out ad nauseam, as it did last season, the team will need better ball disbursement to keep Hall fresh down the stretch. Whether that's via Abanikanda or another veteran option, it's likely of the cheaper variety. I don't expect the Jets to add another big name like it tried to do with Cook, because they have bigger needs at O-line and WR.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Kenneth Gainwell, Tyrion Davis-Price (reserve/futures)

Key free agents: D'Andre Swift (UFA), Boston Scott (UFA), Rashaad Penny (UFA)

Howie Roseman is in an interesting spot. His maneuver to trade peanuts for D'Andre Swift after letting Miles Sanders walk was very much in line with the "RBs are interchangeable" dogma. However, now he's potentially staring at a hole at the position again. Gainwell is a fine No. 2 but was clearly behind Swift. Would Roseman go outside of his normal approach to keep Swift, who proved perfect alongside Jalen Hurts? Or will he seek out more devalued assets and start over again while adding a cheaper draft pick to the mix?

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, Alfonzo Graham

Key free agents: N/A

New offensive coordinator Arthur Smith has two solid backs in Harris and Warren, so he'll probably call plays for Alfonzo Graham all season -- kidding, kidding. In truth, Smith's system should mesh well with the backfield personnel. Harris is a volume runner who can find pay dirt, but his career per-carry mark (3.9) speaks to an inefficient, 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust runner. Meanwhile, Warren offers far more explosion (averaged 5.3 YPC in 2023) and big-play ability. Together, they make a solid tandem. The previous staff resisted giving Warren a ton of Harris' snaps, and it's anyone's guess how Smith plans to divvy the carries at this point.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, Kyle Juszczyk (FB)

Key free agents:  N/A

McCaffrey remains the crème de la crème of the running back position. He can run between the tackles, get to the edge, run through defenders, juke linebackers in the hole, outrun safeties, run routes and catch darts or lobs. Mitchell is a solid backup who could handle more carries if CMC ever decides to come off the field. Juszczyk is a key player in Kyle Shanahan's offense as a willing blocker and solid pass catcher. Those types of do-it-all players make Shanny's offense difficult to defend. But Juszczyk is also counting $7.589 million against the cap in 2024 and is the most expensive fullback in the NFL. I don't think the Niners would straight cut him, but the club seeking a pay reduction would make sense as it attempts to keep the conference-championship team together.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Kenneth Walker, Zach Charbonnet, Kenny McIntosh

Key free agents: DeeJay Dallas (UFA)

Walker and Charbonnet form a solid one-two punch. Both being on rookie contracts makes things easier as the club breaks in a new staff. Walker lacked some of the explosive plays we saw in his rookie season, but even as his yards per carry shrunk, he generally made more plays that looked to be stuffed for loss than warranted behind his blocking. Charbonnet, meanwhile, runs like a bully between the tackles and displays solid receiving acumen. Together, they form a solid combo. Outside of adding depth, it's not a position the Seahawks need to sink assets in this offseason. The biggest question is how new OC Ryan Grubb plans to deploy the duo.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Rachaad White, Sean Tucker, Patrick Laird (reserve/futures)

Key free agents: Chase Edmonds (UFA)

White came on strong down the stretch as the Bucs found a ground attack to complement Baker Mayfield's air game. White is a solid runner who can find holes, and his patience improved in the latter half of the season and into the playoffs, which is one key reason the ground game found life. Yet overall, he's still an inefficient runner. He averaged 3.6 yards per attempt for the season. Even in the final seven weeks in which he improved, he averaged 4.05 YPC. At this point, it's fair to say that's who he is. It was enough for the Bucs offense last season. Tampa has more pressing matters this offseason -- like hanging onto Mayfield, Mike Evans, Antoine Winfield Jr., etc. -- but adding a complement to White is further down the list.

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Tyjae Spears, Hassan Haskins

Key free agents: Derrick Henry (UFA), Jonathan Ward (UFA), Julius Chestnut (ERFA)

The Derrick Henry era feels all but over. The writing has been on the wall since last offseason. The front office hasn't closed the door on a return, but its moves the past year suggest otherwise. Perhaps an extreme hometown discount, if Henry finds zero other offers, could change things, but it feels like it's time for the Titans to move on. They selected mid-round backs in each of the past two drafts, including Spears in the third round in 2023. He looked dynamic down the stretch and has more between-the-tackles ability than given credit. Whether he can be a workhorse remains a question. Meanwhile, Haskins missed all season due to injury. If healthy, Haskins could be a power complement to Spears. Adding another complement to fit Brian Callahan's offense makes sense. 

Top RBs under contract for 2024: Brian Robinson Jr., Chris Rodriguez Jr.

Key free agents: Antonio Gibson (UFA), Derrick Gore (RFA), Alex Armah (FB; UFA)

The Commanders' run game disappointed under Eric Bieniemy but could get a boost with Kliff Kingsbury taking over. In his first three seasons in Arizona, Kingsbury's offense ranked in the top 10 in rush yards each year and was top seven in attempts twice. Robinson offers a powerful back with some potential. I also liked what we saw down the stretch from Rodriguez, whose gashing style could fit well in Kingsbury's system. With a boatload of cash to spend, don't be surprised if Washington makes a backfield splash, particularly someone with pass-catching ability. Dan Quinn certainly knows all about what Tony Pollard brings to the table from their time together in Dallas.  

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