On April 1, the Kansas City Chiefs submitted a new rule proposal to expand jersey number options for certain positions in 2021 and beyond, including single-digit numbers for pass catchers, running backs, linebackers and defensive backs. General manager Brett Veach was the mastermind behind the idea after the team ran out of available numbers at one point last season, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer.
Longtime NBC Sports scribe Peter King reported on Monday that the proposal “is likely to pass later this month when owners vote on 2021 rules changes.”
With the looming change, players across the league have already begun hyping up their next possible jersey numbers on social media, including a couple of notable Chiefs defenders.
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Tyrann Mathieu & Willie Gay Eyeing New Digits
With the NFL presumably beginning to look more like college football with this transition in 2021, many of today’s stars at the skill positions appear most interested in switching back to their amateur digits.
For Kansas City, the most logical candidate to make the switch would be All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu, who wore No. 7 during his days at LSU. As Arrowhead Report also points out, Mathieu even took on the nickname “Seven” before the since retired “Honey Badger” moniker took off.
Now, it appears the ninth-year safety — who has donned No. 32 since entering the league with the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 — is interested in switching, but not to his old college number, and not even next season.
Instead, Mathieu told an inquiring fan on Twitter this week that he’d like to shift to No. 21 in “year 10,” which for him wouldn’t come until 2022.
The surprising part? The significance of the No. 21 is still something of a mystery as it relates to the Chiefs’ defensive leader. Still, passing on No. 7 makes sense as that currently belongs to kicker Harrison Butker. Mathieu confirmed No. 7 isn’t in his plans on Twitter on Thursday, telling fans, “just stay on this journey with me it will all make sense. Every # is a personal choice & one that will tell a story.”
Mathieu isn’t alone in considering some new threads either. Last season’s second-round pick, Willie Gay, also recently took to Twitter with his intentions to switch to the No. 6 that he wore while at Mississippi State from 2017-19.
The second-year linebacker wore No. 50 during his rookie season, in which he posted 39 combined tackles, three pass breakups, 1.0 sack and a forced fumble in 16 games (eight starts).
Mathieu Set to Become Free Agent in 2022
While Gay is set to be a fixture in Kansas City’s defense for the next few years, Mathieu’s current contract runs through the end of this coming season, so it’s possible Chiefs Kingdom wouldn’t even get to see the jersey swap happen in a Chiefs uniform. However, Veach and company have expressed interest in extending his deal.
“We’d put Tyrann in that category,” Veach told reporters during his March 1 pre-draft press conference, via ESPN. “We’ll have some work to do to get with him and his agents, but enough can’t be said about Tyrann and his importance to this team both on the field and in the locker room. He’s proven not just to be a great player but a great leader and great person to have developing the young guys and out in the community.
“We hope he’s secure with this organization for years to come.”
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!