For 21 seasons, Jason Hanson has been the mainstay of the Detroit Lions.
Wearing No. 4, the kicker has been steady throughout the good seasons and the stinkers.
After months of debating, Hanson told the Lions last week that he wanted to return for his 22nd season. Now all that stands in the way is a contract.
The Lions have made an offer, but it appears getting Hanson back will not be automatic.
A contract may be tougher to negotiate than previously thought. He could draw interest from other teams.
“I don’t know how to say it without saying it, it’s disappointing to lose,’’ Hanson said. “But at the same time the only fun I see is if we did it here, if I play it would be 1,000 times cooler than (going somewhere) different.’’
Hanson made $2.55 million last season, but is unlikely to get that much for 2013.
He said money should not be an issue. His exact words on Dec. 28 were: “I’m not worried about salary, really. I mean, did that just get printed? They know that. Me coming back won’t be salary related ...’’
Perhaps his tune has changed since the end of the 4-12 season. He’s had time to think without the immediate, raw disappointment of the end of the season interfering.
It’s another reason he waited to make a decision on whether to return. He wanted to clear his head, take the emotion out of the equation.
Hanson also said back then that he didn’t see the Lions in full rebuilding mode which might affect his decision. Instead, he said the team under-performed. No one can quibble with that.
Hanson also doesn’t want to be a player who fades away.
He showed no signs of faltering last season when he connected on 32 of 36 field goal attempts for 88.9 percent rate which is higher than his career percentage of 82.4.
A 44-yard field goal in the season’s final game was his 188th at 40-plus yards which set an NFL record for most 40-plus field goals in NFL history. He also holds the record for most 50-plus yard field goals at 52.
His 134 points in 2012 set a new franchise record, breaking his own record of 132 points scored in 1995.
Prior to the 2010 season, when the roster was overhauled big-time, some of the newer guys thought the slight bald guy in the locker room was another coach.
Instead it was Hanson who at age 42 is still kicking.
Now we’re just not so sure it will be with the Lions.