It's hard to imagine a future without Jason Hanson serving as the Detroit Lions' kicker, but the reality is that it may be nearing. Hanson is 42 years old, and he's about to wrap up his 21st season in the NFL. He has spent his entire career with the Lions, and he is still kicking at a high level. That doesn't mean he will be back for season No. 22, though.
Hanson talked this week about the possibility of retirement and indicated that he isn't quite ready to make a decision about returning for 2013. While he does think he wants to keep playing, he doesn't want to rush a decision. From the Free Press:
"It's a commitment and I'm not going to do it unless I feel like I can and I'm going to work like I always have," Hanson said. "You take that break (after the season but) when you start up, from OTAs to now it's a lot of work. So again, I'll really process it. Those are the conversations that'll take place."
Hanson did say that he has no interest in playing for a team other than the Lions. In other words, should the Lions decide to go with a younger, less expensive kicker, Hanson would likely simply decide to retire rather than play for a year or two elsewhere.
Personally, I would be surprised if Hanson decides to walk away after this season. Much like Nicklas Lidstrom did with the Detroit Red Wings, I get the feeling that Hanson will be able to squeeze out another season or two before he decides to retire. I say that because Hanson is still playing at such a high level. He's made 31 of his 35 field goal attempts this season, and a few of his misses hit the upright and were barely no good.
Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic about Hanson returning because it's tough to even entertain the possibility of him retiring, but I expect the Lions to re-sign him in the offseason.