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Lions kicker Jason Hanson retires after 21 seasons

Jason Hanson was the NFL's longest-tenured player before retiring after 21 seasons. (Mark Cunningham/Getty Images) Jason Hanson chose to retire after passing on the Lions' 2013 contract offer. (Mark Cunningham/Getty Images)

The NFL's longest-tenured player, Lions kicker Jason Hanson, retired Thursday after 21 seasons.

Hanson, 42, holds NFL records for games played with one team (327) and 50-yard field goals (52) and is third in league history with 2,150 points and 495 field goals.

He's been the Lions' kicker since drafted with a second-round pick in 1992. He preferred to play one more NFL season, but opted to retire after the Lions made him a one-time offer of around $1 million.

Lions president Tom Lewand last week offered no guarantee that the team could fit Hanson under its salary cap. “It’s not a system that provides for a lot of allowance for sentimentality,” Lewand said via the Detroit Free Press. “We have the utmost respect for Jason and want to have him back, but it’s a situation where everything has to fit. The salary cap is a real restraint for all 32 clubs and we have to operate within that and within our plans. So we’ve had our discussions with Jason and like I said we have the utmost respect for him personally and professionally which is why we want to have him back.”

Hanson made a good showing in 2012, making 32 of 36 kicks. Three of his four misses hit an upright.

The Lions had already begun a search for Hanson's replacement, hosting veteran David Akers who left without a deal, and working out Justin Medlock and trick-kicking Internet star Havard Rugland.

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