With the job Dave Rayner did filling in for an injured Jason Hanson in the latter half of the 2010 season, the Lions will be faced with an interesting debate about what to do with him this offseason. He is set to become a free agent (whenever that happens), but he would like to stay in Detroit in the future, even if it means only being a kickoff specialist for a year.
"Like I said, I'd love to be in Detroit. That would be my ultimate goal. But who knows? Maybe I'll stay on as a kickoff guy for a year and kind of see what happens with (Hanson). I don't know. If they made it worth my while to stay and compete, I think I would do that, too, 'cause it's not a thing where he intimidates me from a physical standpoint, but it would be competing with 19 years of history, which is always not a good thing to go up against. We'll see."
Hanson himself said that Rayner "earned a job here or somewhere" next season. That is evident when you consider that Rayner said teams have already contacted his agent expressing interest in signing him (talk about tampering). His performance as Detroit's kicker despite joining the Lions in the middle of the season was outstanding, especially in clutch situations. Rayner has proven he belongs somewhere in the NFL, but will that somewhere be Detroit if Hanson is healthy?
Right now it's not completely clear if Hanson will be back next season. He doesn't plan on retiring if he is healthy, but his health is still a question mark.
"Now that I know we're turning the corner, you could see at the end of the year, and to not be a part of that would be a huge disappointment," Hanson said. "But if I can't get 100%, even I'm not excited to play at 80% or whatever, and I'm sure they aren't either. So we'll see."
This will be on something to keep an eye on throughout the offseason. My guess is that the Lions will re-sign Rayner at some point and keep him around for training camp. If Hanson is healthy once the regular season rolls around, then I'd bet on Rayner being let go. (I doubt the Lions would keep two kickers on the roster.) If Hanson isn't healthy and decides that he doesn't want to play another season, however, then Rayner would be there to take over the kicker job.