NFL jersey number rules, explained: Why so many players changed numbers for the 2021 season

Football is a game of thumbs and numbers.

If you’re an NFL fan, you might notice that something’s wrong when you watch games this season: receivers with single-digit numbers, running backs with numbers in the ’80s, tight ends with numbers in adolescents.

Your eyes are not fooling you: these are all legitimate numbers now for wide receivers, tight ends and full backs, with the NFL relaxing the rules on which group positions may carry certain numbers in the future. While it can be a little bewildering to watch, the reasoning behind the NFL‘s first rule change since the 1970s is actually pretty good.

Here’s what you need to know about the NFL changes for the 2021 season:

What is the new NFL number rule?

For the 2021 NFL season, several groups of positions – namely wide receivers, tight ends, running backs – are getting new slices of numbers, meaning the number options for an individual player have nearly tripled. .

Previously, only quarterbacks, bettors and kickers could have uniform single-digit numbers. Now that group has been expanded to include tight ends, wide receivers, running backs and defensive backs.

Here’s how the new groups of numbers break down:

Station group Number of options Previous number options
Quarterbacks 1-19 1-19
Ball carriers 1-49, 80-89 20-49
Wide receivers 1-49, 80-80 10-19, 80-89
Tight ends 1-49, 80-89 40-49, 80-89
Offensive line 50-79 50-79
Defensive line 50-79, 90-99 50-79, 90-99
Linebackers 1-59, 90-99 40-59, 90-99
Defensive backs 1-49 20-49
Kicking 1-19 1-19
Bettors 1-19 1-19

Why has the NFL changed jersey numbers?

There are several reasons why the NFL decided to change the jersey number rules. The main reason, however, comes from the Kansas City team.

The size of the rosters (53 players in total, plus players from the practice squad) can make it difficult for teams to assign numbers to certain job groups, especially for teams that have more than a few numbers to go. retirement.

The Chiefs, who proposed the rule change, struck out four numbers in the 20-49 number range: this group of numbers was previously reserved for running backs, linebackers and backers.

With COVID-19 changing roster rules in 2020 to include expanded practice team rosters, limitations on number assignments have caused a problem for Chiefs and several other NFL teams, leading to the proposal. , which the owners approved earlier in 2021.

With the relaxed and widened numeric parentheses, this opens up several other groups of positions besides QB, bettor, and kicker to have single-digit numbers: Wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends have significantly expanded number options at the top. ‘to come up. The offensive and defensive lines, however, will not undergo any change. The same goes for punters, kickers and quarterbacks.

The change in numbers was not accepted by everyone: in fact, Tom Brady has been one of the rule’s most vocal critics. Brady – whether he’s just trolling in his old age or legitimately doesn’t like the rule change – thinks the rule might make things more difficult for infractions.

“Good luck trying to block the right people now !! !!” Brady wrote in his Instagram story when the rule change passed. “gonna do a lot of bad football.”

How much does it cost to change an NFL jersey number?

Just like you just don’t get into Mordor, an NFL player just doesn’t change their number. The price for an NFL player to change their number is pretty steep – depending on the player.

In order for an NFL player to change his number for the upcoming season, he must buy back the existing inventory of retail-ready NFL jerseys; This means that any jersey ready for sale in a Dick’s Sporting Goods or Nike store must be purchased by the player.

Dalvin Cook, who wanted to change his number for the next NFL season, was charged with paying $ 1.5 million, the price of the jerseys remaining in stock across the country. That number has dissuaded Cook from wanting to change from his No.33, but it is expected to change for the 2022 NFL season.

If a player wishes to change his number for a subsequent season, with proper notification to the NFL, he can change his number without a problem.

NFL number changes

Several players, mostly wide receivers, have changed their numbers for the coming season to take full advantage of the rules:

Team Player Position New number Old number
Arizona Cardinals Chase edmonds RB 2 29
Arizona Cardinals Isaiah Simmons KG 9 48
Arizona Cardinals Baker Buddha S 3 32
Atlanta Falcons Russell gage WR 14 83
Baltimore Ravens Marquise Brown WR 5 15
Baltimore Ravens Patrick queen KG 6 48
Bison Tickets Emmanuel Sanders WR 1 17
Carolina Panthers Dj moore WR 2 12
Chicago Bear Eddie jackson S 4 39
Chicago Bear Damien williams RB 8 25
Chicago Bear Javon wims WR 15 83
Dallas Cowboys Donovan wilson S 6 37
Dallas Cowboys Jaylon smith KG 9 54
Denver Broncos KJ Hamler WR 1 13
Detroit Lions Quinton Dunbar Comics 1 22
Detroit Lions Mike Ford CB 2 38
Detroit Lions Tyrell williams WR 6 16
Detroit Lions Jamie collins KG 8 58
Indianapolis Colts Parris campbell WR 1 15
The Los Angeles Rams DeSean Jackson WR 1 ten
The Los Angeles Rams Robert woods WR 2 17
The Los Angeles Rams Jordan fuller S 4 32
The Los Angeles Rams Darious williams CB 11 31
The Los Angeles Rams Jalen ramsey CB 5 20
Miami dolphins Albert Wilson WR 2 15
Miami dolphins Will fuller WR 3 15
Miami dolphins Lynn bowden WR 6 15
Miami dolphins Allen Hurns WR 8 17
Miami dolphins Noah Igbinoghene CB 9 23
Minnesota Vikings Patrick peterson CB 7 21
New England Patriots Jalen Mills CB 2 21
New England Patriots Ja’Whaun Bentley CB 8 51
New England Patriots Matt Judon KG 9 99
New York Giants Sterling shepard WR 3 87
Philadelphia Eagles Kill Darius CB 2 24
Seattle Seahawks Akhello Witherspoon CB 2 23
Seattle Seahawks Quandre Diggs S 6 37
Seattle Seahawks Carlos dunlap EDGE 8 43
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Leonard Fournette RB 7 28
Titans of Tennessee Julio Jones WR 2 11

Incoming rookies are the first class to benefit from the NFL jersey number change. Here are some top rookies taking advantage of the new numbers for the 2021 season:

Team Player Position Number
Arizona Cardinals Zaven collins KG 25
Atlanta Falcons Kyle pitts YOU 8
Carolina Panthers Jaycee Horn CB 8
Cincinnati Bengals Ja’Marr Chase WR 1
Cleveland browns Jérémie Owusu-Koramoah KG 28
Dallas Cowboys Micah Parsons KG 11
Denver Broncos Patrick Surtain II CB 2
Jacksonville Jaguars Travis Etienne RB 1
New York Jets Elie Moore WR 8
Philadelphia Eagles DeVonta Smith WR 6
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Joe tryon shoyinka KG 9