NFL Passes Multiple Rule Changes, Including Relaxing of Jersey Number Restrictions

However, players can only change numbers this year if they buy out the existing inventory of their old jerseys.
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The NFL's Competition Committee approved several proposed rule changes on Wednesday, with the most notable being the relaxing of the league's longtime restrictions on jersey numbers by position.

These are the other relevant changes:

  • No more overtime in preseason games
  • Only nine players on the kickoff return unit are allowed in the setup zone (within 25 yards of the ball), as opposed to 10. This is designed to potentially increase the odds of recovering an onside kick.
  • More communication is allowed between referees and replay officials in the booth.
  • There will now be a loss of down if two forward passes are thrown from behind the line of scrimmage.

Those all seem fairly simple and good, particularly the removal of preseason overtimes and the expansion of booth-to-ref communication, both of which should've happened a while ago.

But back to the jersey number rule. When that was initially proposed earlier this month, I wrote about which prominent Vikings would be candidates to take advantage of it.

Here's an important note on that rule: if a player not changing teams this offseason wants to change their jersey number this year, they would have to "buy out the existing inventory of jersey distributors," as part of the league's pre-existing agreement with its manufacturing partners, per ESPN's Kevin Seifert. However, players can give notice now that they want to change their jersey for the 2022 season, and there will be no such requirements.

So, for this season, I'd guess the most likely Vikings candidate to utilize this rule is Patrick Peterson. He still hasn't chosen a jersey number yet, unlike the team's other free agent signings, perhaps because he was waiting for this to pass. Peterson wore No. 7 at LSU, and because he's changing teams, he could wear that jersey right away in Minnesota. He'd have to get permission from Nate Stanley, which I'd imagine wouldn't be an issue, and perhaps buy out the existing inventory of Stanley jerseys out there.

There are a number of other star Vikings players who could switch to single digits this year (if they're willing to pay up) or next year. Dalvin Cook wore No. 4 in college, Justin Jefferson wore No. 2, and Cam Dantzler wore No. 3, to name a few.

We'll just have to wait and see what happens. Regardless, this should make some fun number changes this year and down the road, across the league.

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