The Kansas City Chiefs recently proposed a loosening of the NFL's positional restrictions on jersey numbers, and it's expected to pass this month when owners vote on rule changes, according to Peter King.
These would be the new eligible numbers by position:
- QB, P, K: 1-19
- RB, TE, WR: 1-49, 80-89
- DB: 1-49
- LB: 1-59, 90-99
- OL: 50-79
- DL: 50-79, 90-99
Functionally, the purpose for this is that with practice squads expanding to 16 players last year, there was a crunch on available numbers. Retired numbers are a major factor in that. This flexibility will make things easier for teams.
But from the fan perspective, this has the possibility to be a lot of fun. The jersey number rules have been in place for a long time, and spicing things up could be pretty cool.
It's unclear if established players will be able to easily change their number, because of what that could mean for fans who already bought their previous jersey, but rookies and players changing teams will definitely be able to take advantage. I'd imagine there will be ways for other players, especially stars, to make a switch if they really want to.
One of the big takeaways is that players other than just quarterbacks and specialists will be able to wear single-digit numbers. Lots of skill position players and defenders wear single-digit numbers in college because they look cool, but they're forced to abandon that number when they reach the league.
The Vikings have several notable players who wore single-digit numbers in college, and a couple of them have even used social media to express interest in potentially switching back.
One of the most prominent examples is Dalvin Cook, who wore No. 4 during a stellar career at Florida State and adopted No. 33 in the NFL. Cook posted an Instagram story of a fan photoshop where he's wearing a No. 4 Vikings jersey, saying "Wake that monster up then! Got it on my chest anyway."
The Vikings 4 jersey has been worn by backup quarterback Sean Mannion for the past couple seasons. Mannion is currently a free agent, but even if he's re-signed, I think it's safe to say he wouldn't be an impediment to Cook getting that number.
Then there's 2020 rookie superstar Justin Jefferson, who wore No. 2 at LSU before switching to 18 with the Vikings. That number is currently occupied by Vikings punter Britton Colquitt. Again, I have no idea if players who aren't switching teams or joining a new one will be able to switch without any repercussions if this proposal passes.
Fellow 2020 rookie standout Cameron Dantzler is another player who seems interested in the possibility of going back to his college number. He wore No. 3 at Mississippi State, which is currently worn by Vikings QB Jake Browning.
Perhaps the most likely Vikings player to take advantage of this proposal is free agent acquisition Patrick Peterson. He wore No. 7 at LSU and there has been no announcement about what number he'll have with the Vikings. 7 is currently held by QB Nate Stanley, which won't be a deterrent. Perhaps Peterson is waiting to see if this proposal passes before deciding what number he'll have this season.
Other Vikings who wore single-digit numbers in college include Eric Kendricks (No. 6 at UCLA, No. 54 in the NFL), Adam Thielen (No. 9 at Minnesota State, No. 19 in the NFL), Mackensie Alexander, and Xavier Woods (although the latter two have already chosen numbers in the 20s since signing with Minnesota this spring). Anthony Barr wore No. 11 at UCLA.
Nos. 1, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, and 13-16 are not currently occupied by any Vikings players. Peterson and kicker Greg Joseph are the only players on the roster who don't yet have numbers listed, but there will be rookies and other additions to factor in as well.
It'll be interesting to see if this proposal passes and what ends up happening afterwards if it does.
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