New NFL Kit Numbers Explained: What You Should Know About The League’s Rules Change For 2021


Soccer is a numbers game.

On April 21, the NFL approved a new rule that relaxes certain position groups that carry certain numbers on the field, meaning you will see plenty of new funky numbers assigned to certain position groups on the field.

In previous seasons, only quarterbacks, kickers and players were allowed to wear single-digit numbers, but with the new NFL rule that is a thing of the past. In fact, more position groups are allowed to carry these single digit numbers moving into the future.

While college game fans are familiar with players wearing single-digit numbers, NFL rules do not yet allow this.

This is how the players will develop in the future:

NFL jersey numbers

The NFL relaxing its rules means there are certain groups that can now choose to wear single-digit jersey numbers. Until now, only quarterbacks, punters and kickers could have single-digit numbers. This has now been expanded to include narrow ends, wide receivers, running backs and defensive backs.

This is how it collapses:

Position group Number options
Quarterbacks 1-19
Running backs 1-49, 80-89
Broad receiver 1-49, 80-89
Tight ends 1-49, 80-90
Offensive line 50-79
Line of defense 50-79, 90-99
Linebacker 1-59, 90-99
Defensive back 1-49
Kickers 1-19
Punters 1-19

The brackets for quarterback, offensive line, defensive line and punter number remain the same. Linebackers, defensive backs, tight ends, wide receivers and running backs can now also have single-digit uniform numbers.

Players who change jersey numbers

If a player wants to change his uniform number for the 2021 season, it will cost him this: According to the current jersey manufacturing rules of the NFL, a player must buy up the existing allocation of jerseys with his current number.

If a player wants to change their number for the 2022 NFL season, they must notify, but do not need to purchase the current unified inventory.

According to NFL rules, if a player wishes to change their number during THIS SEASON, they would have to purchase the existing inventory of the shirt distributors.

If he wanted to cancel now to change his number in the NEXT SEASON, there would be no need to buy up inventory.

– Kevin Seifert (@SeifertESPN) April 21, 2021

That said, don’t be surprised if most players wait until 2022 to change their uniform numbers.

However, there are a number of players who have already expressed an interest in changing the numbers:

Jalen Ramsey, Rams

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

Robert Woods, Rams

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

Tyrant Mathieu, bosses

With the LSU, the KC DB carried the number 7. He got involved in the news and said he would only “focus on the numbers that matter”. Could that mean no interest in moving from # 32? Probably.

I just focus on the numbers that matter.

– Tyrant Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) April 21, 2021

Derrick Henry, titans

Henry recently showed his approval of moving the league towards higher single digits. Henry famously wore number 2 in college and doubled that number in the NFL (number 22).

Single digits cool & all, but can we bring back the throwback jerseys and helmets? Someone made a request for this lol.

– Derrick Henry  (@ KingHenry_2) April 9, 2021

Durwin James, chargers

James spent some time in the state of Florida with the number 3 before moving to the number 33 with Los Angeles. He thought it might have been an April Fool’s joke originally, but we’ll see how serious he means now that the rule has been passed.


Steven Gregory