One of the changes that the NFL instituted this offseason has to do with something that is of incredible and serious importance... jersey numbers. In our new world there are far more numbers accessible to running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, linebackers, and defensive backs than there used to be. A lot of players tend to wear numbers in college that were previously not allowed in the NFL, but this change makes some of their old numbers possible. Many of this year’s rookies are already taking advantage of the change.
The thing about the change in 2021 is that it is not an easy move for everyone. Veteran players who want different numbers than they’ve worn have to buy out the existing inventory of merchandise for their old number before being allowed to switch. It is for this reason that a lot of active veterans have chosen not to do so (veterans in their first year with new teams can switch because they do not have existing inventory needed to be bought out).
This whole subject was really thrust into the forefront as far as the Dallas Cowboys are concerned in early April when linebacker Jaylon Smith intimated on social media that he would like to wear number 9. Obviously this particular number belonged to one of many people’s favorite Cowboys players in quarterback Tony Romo which is why the issue was met with much debate. Lo and behold, Smith paid the necessary amount and will in fact be switching to number 9.
Jaylon Smith is making a jersey switch, moving from No. 54 to No. 9, but it will come at a cost. According to multiple sources, Smith will pay close to mid-six figures to buy out the current inventory of No. 54 jerseys and t-shirts, which follows NFL rules, to make the move. Had he said he would change his number in 2022, it would not cost him any money. Sources said Smith reached out to Tony Romp, who wore the number from 2003-16.
ESPN’s Todd Archer reported that Smith will pay “close to mid-six figures” to buy out his current jersey inventory which means he is literally paying all of that amount to switch jersey numbers of all things. It is Jaylon’s decision to make and he is entitled to do it, but as Archer notes he would not have had to have paid any money to switch a year from now, if he is even on the Cowboys at that point.
Archer also included in his report that Smith reached out to Tony Romo about wearing the number, but that is likely not going to settle the waters for people who are upset about this. Perhaps Smith will become the player that he was at Notre Dame with the same number that he donned then. It clearly means a lot to him. Hopefully he proves this new version of himself to be a great player.
The mothership also reported that Donovan Wilson will be switching to number 6.