The kicking shoe is on the other foot in
Hanson, who said at the end of last season that he would take his time to decide whether to continue playing after 21 seasons, has made up his mind to return as the Lions' kicker in 2013.
Hanson told USA Today that he wants to continue playing in Detroit. He was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
"If I can't do it here (with the Lions), I can't do it anywhere," Hanson was quoted as saying.
However, Hanson's return to the Lions does not appear to be automatic. There have been strong indications that the Lions want him back, but they also want a kicker with a stronger leg who can boom a high percentage of kickoffs out of the end zone to cut back on returns. A punter who can handle kickoffs would make Hanson's return more certain.
And Hanson's agent, Jack Mills, said Tuesday that although Hanson's prefers to play for the Lions, contract negotiations will play a role.
Mills is a long-time player agent whose dealings with the Lions date to 1970, when he represented Heisman Trophy winner and first-round draft pick Steve Owens. Mills has never been known to posture publicly in contract negotiations.
"He obviously has to have a satisfactory contract," Mills said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "He wants to be given market value for his level of performance."
"Market value" does not include the veteran minimum of $940,000 for players with 10 or more seasons of service, as stipulated under the collective bargaining agreement.
"That's not what we're talking about," Mills said when asked if Hanson would play for the minimum.
Hanson made $2.55 million last season on the final year of a four-year, $7.9-million contract signed in 2009. His salary-cap number, which includes the signing bonus, was $3.225 million.
Mills reiterated what Hanson has said often – that his first choice is to remain in Detroit. Hanson was a second-round draft pick out of Washington in 1992 and used to divide time between Metro Detroit and Washington. However, he since has made the family home in Metro Detroit, and Hanson has said he doesn't want to kick for another team.
"I think the idea is to stay in Detroit," Mills said. "Jason's never been one to play games with anyone. There's no hiding the fact that he wants to be in Detroit.
"We've always been able to work something out."