NFL Injury Report: Fred Jackson’s MCL Injury

Each week, RulingSports.com will analyze one NFL player’s injury.  Sports Medicine doctor, Dr. Mandy Huggins (Twitter:  @HugginsMD), will provide medical analysis of the injury.  Alicia Jessop will then break down some of the contract ramifications of the injury.

Dr. Mandy Huggins’ Medical Analysis

Fred Jackson, RB for the Buffalo Bills, left the game Sunday with a right knee injury. It was later reported that he has a grade II medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury and will not return for the rest of the season.

The MCL provides stability on the medial, or inside, portion of the knee joint. It originates on the end of the femur (thigh bone) and inserts onto the tibia (shin bone). Similarly, there is a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) on the outside portion of the knee that provides lateral stability. Injuries to the MCL usually occur as a result of valgus force to the knee (think of this as pressure from lateral to medial; for example, in the right knee, the force would be from right to left). They are classified into grade I, II, or III injuries. A grade I injury is a mild sprain with pain but no laxity or instability. A grade II injury involves more severe injury to the ligament with some medial laxity seen, whereas a grade III injury involves more extensive or complete tearing of the ligament. Fortunately, surgery is typically not required, but the length of recovery is more prolonged with more severe injuries. Treatment includes a hinged knee brace for support and protection, as well as a period of rehabilitation for range of motion and strength.

Alicia Jessop’s Contract Analysis

While there arguably is never a good time for an injury in the NFL, the good news for Jackson is that he just signed a three-year contract extension in May.  That contract extension was worth $8.7 million.  This is arguably good news, as if he were looking for a contract extension or new contract after this season, he would likely be offered significantly less money.  Jackson was plagued by injury throughout the season, which is demonstrated by his career-low 3.8 yards per carry average. 

Even though Jackson signed a contract extension, only $3 million of the $8.7 million is guaranteed.  His base salaries in 2013 and 2014 are $2.15 million and $2.45 million, respectively.  In each of those years, his contract also allows for extensive bonuses.  Thus, in order for him to truly receive the “bang” out of his contract extension, Jackson needs to return next season.

One thing about Jackson, is that he is certainly a fighter.  Originally undrafted out of a Division III school, in his five seasons in the NFL, Jackson has racked up impressive stats.  Furthermore, he has previously suffered and returned from a season-ending leg injury.  So, one can expect that Jackson will rehab and be back on the gridiron next year.

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