Football is a game of numbers.
On April 21, the NFL approved a new rule which relaxes certain position groups wearing certain numbers on the field, meaning you’re going to see a lot new funky numbers associated with certain position groups on the field.
In prior seasons, only quarterbacks, kickers and punters were allowed to wear single digits, but that’s now a thing of the past with the NFL’s new rule. In fact, more position groups than not are allowed to wear those single digit numbers moving into the future.
While fans of the college game are familiar with players wearing single digits, it’s not something that’s been allowed in the NFL rulebook — until now.
Here’s how players will be suiting up in the future:
NFL jersey numbers
The NFL relaxing its rules means there are certain groups who can now opt to wear single-digit jersey numbers. Previously, only quarterbacks, punters and kickers could have single digits. Now, that’s been expanded to include tight ends, wide receivers, running backs and defensive backs.
Here’s how it breaks down:
|Position group||Number options|
|Running backs||1-49, 80-89|
|Wide receivers||1-49, 80-89|
|Tight ends||1-49, 80-90|
|Defensive line||50-79, 90-99|
The quarterback, offensive line, defensive line and punter number brackets remain the same. Linebackers, defensive backs, tight ends, wide receivers, running backs can all wear single-digit uniform numbers now, as well.
Players changing jersey numbers
If a player wants to change his uniform number for the 2021 season, it’s going to cost him: Under the NFL’s current jersey manufacturing rules, a player will have to buy out the existing allotment of jerseys featuring their current number.
If a player wants to change his number for the 2022 NFL season, then he’ll have to give notice, but won’t have to buy the current uniform inventory.
Per NFL rules, if a player wants to change his number THIS SEASON, he would have to buy out the existing inventory of jersey distributors.
If he wants to give notice now to change his number NEXT SEASON, there would be no requirement to buy out inventory. https://t.co/XvduiMgSw3
— Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) April 21, 2021
Meaning: Don’t be surprised if most players wait until 2022 to change their uniform numbers.
There are, however, a number of players who have already indicated interest in changing numbers:
Jalen Ramsey, Rams
Ramsey wore two numbers in college: No. 13 and No. 8. On April 21, Ramsey tweeted an emoji of himself in light of the news, potentially indicating he wants a new number.
Robert Woods, Rams
Robert Woods, who wore No. 2 in college with USC, currently wears No. 17 for the Rams. He recently said he would switch back.
Tyrann Mathieu, Chiefs
With LSU, the KC DB wore No. 7. He chimed in on the news, saying he’ll only “focus on the numbers that matter.” Could that mean no interest in changing from No. 32? Probably.
I’m only focused on the numbers that matter.
— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) April 21, 2021
Derrick Henry, Titans
Henry recently showed his approval for the league shifting towards allowing more single digits. Henry famously wore No. 2 in college, and is doubling on the digit in the NFL (No. 22).
Single digits cool & all , but can we bring the throwback jerseys & helmets back ? Somebody put in a request for that lol .
— Derrick Henry (@KingHenry_2) April 9, 2021
Derwin James, Chargers
James spent time with Florida State wearing No. 3, before switching to No. 33 with Los Angeles. He thought it might be an April Fools joke originally, but we’ll see how serious he is about it now that the rule has passed.