Jaylon Smith, Cowboys Agree to Huge ‘Deal’ for 2021: Report

Jaylon Smith

Getty Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

There’s a new No. 9 in town.

No, Tony Romo is not descending from the broadcast booth for the Dallas Cowboys. Instead, linebacker Jaylon Smith is assuming the legendary quarterback’s famous digit, switching from No. 54 for the 2021 season, the team announced Tuesday.

The latest Dallas Cowboys news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Cowboys newsletter here!

Sign up for the Heavy on Cowboys Newsletter!

Costly Change

Smith first teased a jersey change in April as the NFL opted to relax its longstanding attire rules, allowing linebackers the option of wearing Nos. 1-59 and 90-99.

As part of the new policy, however, players must buy out the existing old-number inventory prior to switching. For Smith, this meant a “mid-six-figure” deal was made regarding No. 54 jerseys and T-shirts, ESPN’s Todd Archer reported.

“Had he said he would change his number in 2022, it would not cost him any money,” Archer noted.

Follow the Heavy on Cowboys Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!

Jaylon Gets Approval

The Cowboys are among the few NFL teams that don’t retire jerseys. But No. 9 has been unofficially retired since Romo hung up his cleats in 2016; he had donned it since 2003, his rookie season. Only four other players (Jon Hilbert, Rodney Peete, Roger Ruzek, Mitch Hoopes) have owned it amid the franchise’s storied history.

According to Archer, owner/general manager Jerry Jones personally approved Smith’s move less than a month after discussing the numbers most synonymous with Dallas, including Roger Staubach’s No. 12, Troy Aikman’s No. 8, and Emmitt Smith’s No. 22.

“We are very aware of what happens relative to the personalities and identification with a number. It’s not frivolous,” Jones said during the 2021 NFL draft, per ESPN. “It’ll be considered, but certainly will have to be considered in light of some of the other things that you do and not the least of which is all the things that are out here that have that identification with that personality with that number. We’re pretty sensitive about No. 12 around here, and we’re pretty sensitive about No. 8, 22. Those are decisions that we’ll make, and we’ll make as a club. I will say, this is a club decision.”

Archer added: “A source said Smith reached out to Tony Romo about the switch as well.”

PR Boss Explains Jersey Policy

So, why don’t the Cowboys enshrine certain numbers, preserving the legacy of the rarified few who deserve it? Public relations director Rich Dalrymple explained last month the standard dates back to Tex Schramm, the Cowboys’ original president and GM.

“For the record, the Cowboys are one of the few — if only — NFL teams that have never officially retired a jersey number,” Dalrymple told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “You will not be able to find any record of a number being officially retired by the club, and we don’t have a ‘Retired Numbers’ page in our media guide. Having said that, there are a few numbers that have not been issued since they have been worn be prominent players in franchise history. (Late team president) Tex Schramm’s vision was to have the Ring of Honor in lieu of having a whole bunch of retired jerseys.”

READ NEXT: Cowboys Rookie Hits Back at Julio Jones After Viral Dallas Insult

Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL