Detroit Lions Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow is paid well -- on a four-year, $54 million contract that makes him the second-highest paid player at his position in the entire NFL on an average-per-year basis ($13.5 million) -- to fight through plenty of aches and pains. However, what he's been dealing with since the start of the 2022 season is a next-level injury: an "inoperable" turf toe injury.
Many NFL players will get varying levels of procedures done to various injuries in the offseason, but Ragnow is unable to do so because of a "lack of healthy tissue."
"It's a deal where it's kind of inoperable, so it's something we're trying to navigate," Ragnow said Thursday, per MLive.com. "But hopefully it's not going to be anything near the altitude of last year, where it was, like, brutal. ... There's no healthy tissue left, so it would have to be an experimental procedure to get that done. And that's not something NFL offensive linemen are in the business of (trying)."
This injury, which Ragnow categorized as "the most severe degree of turf toe," reached the point of being inoperable after years of multiple plantar plate tears in his left foot. The first time was in Week 4 of the 2021 season against the Chicago Bears. That required immediate season-ending surgery.
Come Week 1 of last season against the Philadelphia Eagles, he tore the plantar plate again on the game's first possession.
"I was so mad it happened again," Ragnow said. "I was over it, and had a great training camp, feeling good, and then the first game of the season it happened. So, I just had to fight through it."
Fighting through it for Ragnow last season meant barely practicing, but he ended up playing in 16 of 17 games. For his efforts, he earned a 77.9 offensive grade from Pro Football Focus and the second Pro Bowl nod of his career. With dedicated maintenance and not a full fix being the only solution right now entering 2023, Ragnow is optimistic with how everything is holding up while going through the offseason program.
"It's like tuft toe, right? It's the most severe degree of turf toe. A lot of guys, it just depends on how it impacts different guys. ... Hopefully it scars over, and that's how it's been, and it's been a lot better. We're good. We're being smart with it, though. We're not rushing and making sure I get enough rest, because last season was one to forget in terms of that. It was brutal. So, just trying to be smart with it."