NFL jersey number rule change could bring back some classic college football looks for Derrick Henry, Jalen Ramsey and others

The NFL owners approved a rule change on Wednesday proposed by the Kansas City Chiefs that loosens jersey number rules. Get ready for a lot more players rocking single-digit jerseys.

Currently running backs, receivers, linebackers, tight ends and defensive backs must wear uniform numbers within a certain numerical range. The change means all the cool, single-digit uniforms that only kickers, punters and QBs can wear are now allowed on more players. It also means uniform numbers will look a lot more like college, where there are no such regulations and anyone can pretty much wear any number.

According to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert, 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.

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The change would allow many of the NFL’s top players go back to the looks they wore in college. If the players do want to change, here’s what some might look like:

Myles Garrett had 32.5 sacks in three seasons at Texas A&M. Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland Browns DE Myles Garrett

Number: 96 to 15?

Garrett, wearing No. 15 with the Aggies, was a two-time All-America selection and had 47 career sacks before being the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL draft. With the Browns, Garrett has 42.5 career sacks and was an All-Pro in 2020.

John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry

Number: 22 to 2?

In 2015, Henry won the Heisman Trophy and led Alabama to a national title. In his final season with the Crimson Tide, Henry rushed for 2,219 yards and 28 scores. Tennessee drafted him in the second round of the 2016 draft. Henry added another 2,000-yard rushing season in 2020, when he was named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year.

Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Rams DB Jalen Ramsey

Number: 20 to 8?

Ramsey started as a true freshman and won the 2013 BCS national title while at Florida State. He was an All-American in 2015 before being drafted No. 5 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016. With the Jags, he made it to the 2017 AFC Championship Game before going to the Rams. He is now the NFL’s highest-paid defensive back.

Brad Barr/US Presswire
New England Patriots DB Stephon Gilmore

Number: 24 to 5?

At South Carolina, Gilmore was a two-time All-SEC player before being drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2012. Gilmore moved to the Patriots in 2017 and, since then, has won a Super Bowl, won the Defensive Player of the Year award and been an All-Pro twice.

Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports
Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey

Number: 22 to 5?

At Stanford, McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders’ collegiate record for all-purpose yards and accounted for nearly 7,000 total yards in his college career. He also has Stanford’s single-game rushing record and the Rose Bowl record for all-purpose yards. He was a first-round pick by Carolina. With the Panthers, he had consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons in 2018 and 2019 before an ankle injury cut short his 2020 season.