The Kansas City Chiefs have proposed a rule change that would loosen position restrictions on jersey numbers, which could make many NFL fans’ jerseys of their favorite stars outdated.
Football Morning in America’s Peter King described how with the expansion to a 16-man practice squad and each franchises’ retired numbers, jersey number options were limited this past season for newly signed players. King wrote that he expects the rule to be passed later this month.
So where does the potential new rule leave fans? While it is exciting to think of the potential of new jersey numbers for their favorite stars, it also leaves many with jerseys that could be a relic of the longtime jersey number restrictions.
Here are the proposed new eligible numbers by position:
- QB, P, K: 1-19
- RB, TE, WR: 1-49, 80-89
- DB: 1-49
- LB: 1-59, 90-99
- OL: 50-79
- DL: 50-79, 90-99
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Dalvin Cook, Cameron Dantzler & Patrick Peterson Reveal Dream Jersey Numbers
A major reshuffling of the Minnesota Vikings jersey numbers could be in store for 2021.
Dalvin Cook shared a jersey edit of him wearing No. 4, his college jersey number at Florida State, with the caption: “Wake that monster up then! Got it on my chest anyway!”
Cook, who wears No. 33, is one of many skill players who wore single digits in college. Justin Jefferson wore No. 2 his senior year at LSU before switching to No. 18 upon entering the NFL. Backup running back Alexander Mattison suggested single-digit numbers could become a hot commodity.
Kickers around the league are bout to be down bad with this new number rule 🤣
— Alexander Mattison (@AlexMattison22) April 8, 2021
Whenever there is a conflict where an incoming player wants a number that is currently rostered in the league, oftentimes the two players arrange some type of exchange for the number. For example, when Yannick Ngakoue joined the Vikings for what turned to be a six-week stint last season, he paid Jalyn Holmes for No. 91, while Holmes switched to No. 90.
Sean Mannion has worn No. 4 for the past few seasons, however, the number is currently available if Cook would want to switch under the new rules.
Cameron Dantzler shared a jersey edit of him in No. 3, the number he wore at Mississippi. Quarterback Jake Browning, who has been on the practice squad for two seasons, currently wears that number.
“Daddy how I look” 🤣 (DayDay Voice) go back to 3 👀 pic.twitter.com/iBqIULl9B2
— Cam Dantzler (@camdantzler3) April 9, 2021
Incoming veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson (who the Vikings have not announced his number yet) has also suggested he’d like to switch to No. 7, which 2020 seventh-round quarterback Nate Stanley currently wears. Neither Browning or Stanley have played a snap in a regular-season NFL game yet in their careers, so potential number trades could likely be arranged.
— Patrick Peterson /P2 (@P2) April 9, 2021
There could be caveats to switching jerseys when the rule is officially discussed in the upcoming owners meeting, however, players are already catching a buzz from the possibilities of switching numbers.
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Why Jersey Rule Needs to Change
In King’s Football Morning in America column last week, he offered an example as to the logistical nightmare the current position restriction rules have on teams.
Here’s what he wrote:
Last year, when the practice squads expanded to 16 players per team, it put a crush on numbers, particularly for teams that have some retired numbers. Take Kansas City. The current numbering system allows for running backs and defensive backs to wear numbers 20 through 49. Tight ends and linebackers can use 40-49 as well as other numbers. So when defensive backs, running backs, tight ends and linebackers all can claim those 30 numbers, and team had (not including players on IR) 69 active and practice-squad players, there can be a run on 20 through 49.
Kansas City has three numbers (28, 33, 36) retired in that range, plus a fourth, Joe Delaney’s 37, that is not issued. (Delaney, a KC running back, drowned in 1983 trying to save three children in a Louisiana pond.) That leaves 26 numbers that can be issued between 20 and 49. A look at the Kansas City roster on Jan. 1, 2021 shows three players issued number 30 last season:
• Defensive back Alex Brown, who wore the number in camp before tearing his ACL and being sidelined for the year.
• Defensive back Deandre Baker, issued number 30 when he was signed to the practice squad Nov. 19. He played two late-season games.
• Running back Elijah McGuire, issued number 30 when he was signed to the practice squad Dec. 22. He was never activated.
The number changes could be maddening, but with the likelihood that the practice squad will be either 14 or 16 players in 2021, and with the retired numbers helping clogging up rosters league-wide (Chicago has 14, San Francisco 12, the Giants 11, Kansas City 10, Philly nine, the Rams and Colts eight), it’s a necessary adjustment.
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