The adjustment to life after Jason Hanson wasn’t easy at first for the Lions. They couldn’t fill the void left by the franchise’s all-time scoring leader through the draft, and went through numerous free agents before finally finding Matt Prater.
Hanson retired in the spring of 2013 after 21 seasons in the NFL (all with Detroit). In a recent interview with the Detroit Free Press, he revealed that he was open to returning to the Lions if he was still under contract. The Lions had offered him a league-minimum deal of $1 million, while the going rate for kickers with credentials such as Hanson was just above $2 million.
“Hey look, minimum in the NFL is a ridiculous amount of money. So I didn’t tell them that, but I would have played for that. I mean, that’s a lot of money,” he said in the interview. “But at the same time it was like, OK, if they’re saying, ‘Hey, we like you, but we can go get someone else and what do you want to do?’ I was like, ‘OK, well, that’s fine.’ If there’s no passion on their end, then I’m going to feel the same way. So no, it wasn’t just that, but all of it together.”
David Akers signed as a free agent shortly after Hanson’s retirement. He hit 19 of 24 field goal attempts in his only season with Detroit, while also losing the faith of then-head coach Jim Schwartz along the way. Next up was Nate Freese, who the team took in the seventh round of the 2014 draft. Three games into the season, and four missed field goals, he was done. Alex Henery was then brought in on a free agent contract. He proceeded to miss four of his five attempts, before the team finally landed on Prater.
“If I was still under contract, I would have come back and played, kind of like that’s what I’m supposed to do and got in the rehab room and tried to get better,” Hanson went on to say. “But it was just time. So I’m over it now. I’m over myself. It’s good to be done.”