Ready to buy a new jersey?
The NFL owners approved a new rule Wednesday that will increase the jersey numbers available to players at different positions. The rule was proposed by the Kansas City Chiefs after many teams ran into difficulties with jersey numbers due to the increased size of practice squads last year and retired jersey numbers.
The rule will allow many players to wear their college numbers that were previously unavailable due to positional restrictions. The Carolina Panthers only have one jersey number currently retired — No. 51 for Sam Mills.
New jersey numbers, however, are unlikely to be in place for the 2021 season, but are far more likely in 2022. If a player would like to change his number for the upcoming season, that player would have to buy out the existing inventory of his jersey from distributors, per NFL policy. If a player does not wish to pay, jersey numbers can be changed at no cost for the 2022 season.
Since the retirement of Luke Kuechly, Greg Olsen and Thomas Davis, no Panthers player has been assigned their jersey numbers. The same has held true for now-New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. That will be tested with this new rule as there are multiple players who may be interested in No. 1; however, it is unlikely that the organization will allow it to be worn.
The new rules do not allow for defensive tackle Derrick Brown to return to wearing No. 5 as he did at Auburn.
Allowed jersey numbers with new rule
▪ Quarterbacks, punters and kickers: 1-19.
▪ Wide receivers, tight ends and running back: 1-49, 80-89. Running backs previously allowed 20 through 49, tight ends 40 through 49 and 80 through 89 and wide receivers 10 through 19 and 80 through 89.
▪ Offensive linemen: 50-79. Only centers were previously allowed to wear 50 through 59.
▪ Defensive linemen: 50-79, 90-99.
▪ Linebackers: 1-59, 90-99. Formerly allowed to wear 40 through 59 and 90 through 99.
▪ Defensive backs: 1-49. Previously only 20 through 49.
Possible number changes
WR DJ Moore
Moore wore No. 1 at Maryland, but has been in No. 12 during his NFL career. The wide receiver asked on Twitter recently if he should switch to No. 2.
Recently, quarterback Tommy Stevens took on the No. 2 jersey, his Penn State jersey numbers. He will have some major competition for the number.
RB Christian McCaffrey
McCaffrey has been wearing No. 22 in the NFL. During his time at Stanford, the running back donned No. 5.
Recently, McCaffrey shared pictures of himself in a No. 5 Panthers jersey, asking fans if he should change his number. The post, however, was quickly deleted. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater wears No. 5, but his status with the team is up in the air.
TE Dan Arnold
Newly signed tight end Dan Arnold chose No. 85 as his original jersey number with the Panthers, but Arnold wore No. 17 at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville. Wide receiver Omar Bayless is currently wearing that number for Carolina.
CB Donte Jackson
Jackson is another player who could have had his eyes on Newton’s former number. During his time at LSU, Jackson wore No. 1. He could change to a number other than 26, even if it’s not No. 1.
LB Shaq Thompson
In his college career at Washington, Thompson wore No. 7, previously not an option for linebackers. Quarterback Will Grier wears No. 7 for the Panthers, so a deal would have to be worked out for him to move on from No. 54.
LB Jermaine Carter
Carter wore two different numbers during his time at Maryland, No. 1 and 23. Both are now options for linebackers after wearing No. 56 previously with the Panthers. Cornerback Stan Thomas-Oliver is currently in No. 23.
As mentioned above, No. 2 could become a popular number in the Panthers’ locker room. Hybrid defender Jeremy Chinn wore No. 2 during his time at Southern Illinois, but had to take on No. 21 in the NFL.
Other new rules approved
▪ Overtime has been eliminated in the preseason.
▪ A one-year trial aimed at making it easier to recover onside kicks. The receiving team on kickoffs will only be allowed nine players within 25 yards of the ball.
▪ Added a loss of down, in addition to a loss of yards, for two forward passes on one play.
▪ Enforcement of all accepted penalties committed on extra points or two-point attempts.
▪ Replay officials, who sit in stadium press boxes, can now assist on-field officials with “certain objective information” when “clear and obvious video evidence is present.”
Previously, replay officials had only been able to officially help with game administration issues, like clock management, or when plays were under review. Now they can offer advice based on replays concerning topics such as possession, completed passes, the location of the ball and whether a player is down by contact.