New NFL jersey numbers, explained: what to know about the league rule change for 2021

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Football is a numbers game.

On April 21, the NFL approved a new rule that relaxes certain groups of positions with certain field numbers, which means you’re going to see a lot of awesome new numbers associated with certain groups of field positions.

In previous seasons, only quarterbacks, kickers and punters were allowed to wear single digit numbers, but that is now a thing of the past with the new NFL rule. In fact, more hunt groups than not are allowed to carry these single-digit numbers in the future.

While fans of the varsity game are familiar with players wearing single digit numbers, it’s not something that was allowed in the NFL rulebook – until now.

Here’s how players will dress in the future:

NFL jersey numbers

The NFL relaxing its rules means some groups can now choose to wear single-digit jersey numbers. Previously, only quarterbacks, bettors and kickers could have a single digit. Now that has been expanded to include tight ends, wide receivers, running backs and defensive backs.

Here’s how it breaks down:

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

The quarterback, offensive line, defensive line and bettor number ranges remain the same. Linebackers, defensive backs, tight ends, wide receivers, running backs can all now wear uniform single-digit numbers.

Players change jersey number

If a player wants to change his uniform number for the 2021 season, it will come at a cost: Under current NFL jersey-making rules, a player will have to buy back the existing allocation of jerseys bearing their current number.

If a player wishes to change their number for the 2022 NFL season, then they will need to give notice, but will not have to purchase the current uniform inventory.

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 shown interest in changing the numbers:

Jalen Ramsey, Rams

Ramsey wore two numbers in college: # 13 and # 8. On April 21, Ramsey tweeted an emoji of himself in light of the news, potentially indicating that he wanted a new number.

Robert Woods, Rams

Robert Woods, who wore number 2 in college with USC, currently wears number 17 for the Rams. He recently announced he would be back.

Tyrann Mathieu, chefs

With LSU, the KC DB wore number 7. He responded to the news, saying he would only focus on the numbers that matter. Could this mean that there is no point in changing from # 32? Probably.

Derrick Henry, Titans

Henry recently showed his approval for the league to move towards allowing more single-digit numbers. Henry wore number 2 in college and doubles the number in the NFL (# 22).

Derwin James, loaders

James spent time with Florida State wearing number 3, before moving to number 33 with Los Angeles. He thought it might be an April Fool’s Day joke originally, but we’ll see how serious he is about it now that the rule is over.


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