NFL rule change: What is NFL jersey number expansion?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Super Bowl Press Conference
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Super Bowl Press Conference
Walter Sharp

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero has reported that NFL owners have approved a proposal to change NFL jersey numbers.

The Kansas City Chiefs submitted a proposal to adjust the restrictions on what number a player can wear on his jersey. With the new rule being accepted by owners, it now gives players the option to wear single-digit jersey numbers.

How does the new NFL jersey number rule work?

NFL Logo
NFL Logo

With NFL owners agreeing to the new jersey number rule, it gives several positions the option to wear single-digit numbers on their jerseys.

Before the rule was passed, the only positions that were allowed to wear single-digit numbers were the quarterbacks, kickers and punters.

The new rule now allows running backs, tight ends, fullbacks, H-backs and wide receivers to wear numbers 1-49 and 80-89.

Defensive backs can choose from 1-49; linebackers can choose from 1-59 and 90-99. Offensive lineman can pick from 50-79, and defensive lineman can choose from 50-79 and 90-99. Quarterbacks, kickers and punters will have the same rule, using numbers 1-19.

The new rule will kick in for the 2021-22 NFL season. The chances of NFL players changing their jersey numbers for this season seems unlikely, though. That is because of the effect it would have on the sale of jerseys that have the old number.

Kevin Seifert of ESPN posted on his Twitter page about how changing the numbers this season could work for players. If a player wants to change their jersey number this season, he will need to buy out the existing inventory of jersey distributors.

If the player wants to wait till the 2022-23 NFL Season, the player will not have to buy out the remaining stock. That is why the new jersey number rule could effectively come into play during the 2022-23 season.

It does make sense for the NFL to require the players to buy out the remaining stock of jerseys, otherwise impacting the jersey's sale.

Several players wore single-digit numbers in college. Derrick Henry wore no. 2 at Alabama. Both Jalen Ramsey and Robert Woods also wore No. 2 in college but are currently working out an agreement on their jersey number for the season.

It will be interesting to see which NFL players change their jersey numbers next season. It will also be interesting to see if the sale of jerseys goes up or down due to the change of numbers.

Edited by Bhargav
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