The Bills rewarded running back Fred Jackson with a two-year contract extension that should allow the 31-year-old to finish his career with the franchise.
"He's a huge piece of the puzzle for us," GM Buddy Nix said at Monday's press conference announcing the long-discussed deal with Jackson.
As several other veterans in decline on the wrong side of 30 wait for the phone to ring, Jackson remained one of the most productive backs in the NFL last season before a season-ending injury at Miami began a tailspin for the Bills. Jackson was leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,376 total yards at the time of the injury.
Jackson was entering the final year of a four-year, $7.5 million contract. He was due to earn $1.83 million in base salary and another $425,000 in bonuses in 2012.
He led the Bills in rushing for the third straight year in 2011 with 934 yards on 170 carries and scored six touchdowns in 10 games. He finished the season second in the NFL with a 5.5-yard rushing average.
Jackson suffered a cracked fibula against Miami on Nov. 20, has been "completely cleared" since February 24, coach Chan Gailey said and is a full participant in offseason workouts.
A product of tiny Coe College, Jackson signed with Buffalo as an undrafted free agent in 2006. He posted 3,794 rushing yards on 817 carries and 16 touchdowns and added 175 catches for 1,535 yards and four touchdowns in 66 games with 38 starts.