LA Rams 10 players sporting new jersey numbers in 2021

(Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images) /

If you have the opportunity to catch the LA Rams playing football at some point this year, you may be a bit disoriented when the players take the field. You see, one of the NFL owner’s rules changes had to do with allowing new ranges of uniform jersey numbers for players. That means players have willingly elected to take on new jersey numbers, and a host of players arriving at the team have the option to choose from numbers that were forbidden to them as recently as one year ago.

While the phrase that is commonly known as the “quarterback carousel” has been evoked so much this offseason, meanwhile, there’s been a bit of musical-chairs carousel of jersey number changes going on as well, thanks to the NFL loosening up the rules on who gets to wear what jersey numbers last month.

Single-digit jersey numbers were once the exclusive domain of quarterbacks, kickers, and punters, but that is no mas. Defensive backs, wide receivers, running backs and even tight ends can now all sport single-digit numbers if they so choose.

By the numbers

More specifically, the NFL’s expanded jersey ruling will allow the above-mentioned group to wear numbers 1-49 and 80-89; defensive backs are now relegated to choose from numbers 1-49; linebackers from the ranges of 1-59 and 90-99; offensive linemen can choose from numbers 50-79; and defensive linemen from the ranges of 50-79 and 90-99. These positions’ jersey number options were all expanded.

Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams /

Los Angeles Rams

Quarterbacks, kickers, and punters, however, will have to remain in the No. 1-19 range. Their options were not increased. For once, the NFL did not pander to its quarterbacks. Imagine that.

The rule change adjusting the restrictions on who can wear which jersey numbers was actually proposed by the Kansas City Chiefs, (and approved by the NFL owners in April) in response to expanded practice squads (due to COVID-19) which created a logjam of number issues for some NFL clubs. Also, the practice of retiring the jersey numbers of former players gave rise to a jersey numbers crunch for some clubs, as well.

And a few Rams have opted in for a jersey number re-set this upcoming season.

The who’s who of jersey numbers

Perhaps the most noticeable change is Rams’ wide recover Robert Woods changing from his former jersey number 17 to the new jersey number 2, the same number he wore in high school and as a wideout for the University of Southern California Trojans.

Other Rams changing jersey numbers include newly acquired free agent WR Desean Jackson opting to trade in his originally elected jersey number 11 to don the very prominent jersey number 1, a number he wore proudly at the University of California.

That subsequently allowed cornerback Darious Williams to change from his original jersey numbered 31 to Jackson’s former jersey number 11.  Of course, teammate safety Jordan Fuller kept up with the changes by opting out of his former LA Rams jersey number 32 to his number jersey number 4. Woods, Jackson, and Fuller have all chosen to change up to the jersey numbers they sported from their college football days. Even backup defensive back David Long Jr. has been swept up in the need for a new number, as he has chosen to sport number 22 in 2021, and surrender his 2020 jersey number 25.

The other guys who changed numbers

So what of the player evicted from those numbers?  Well, placekicker Matt Gay has left jersey number 1 and will boast jersey number 8 for 2021. Of course, that evicts placekicker Austin MacGinnis who will wear Jersey number 18 for 2021 as a result.

Backup quarterback John Wolford has since opted to sunset his jersey number 9 and put on the jersey number 3 for 2021. Inside linebacker Travin Howard has opted to switch from jersey number 48 to jersey number 32.  And last but not least, the X factor, running back Xavier Jones is opting out of his former jersey number 35 and to a new jersey number 25. Of course, that is the number that David Long Jr. just surrendered. Keeping up with us still?.

The full listing of LA Rams players, and their corresponding jersey numbers, and be found at the team’s official website here.

Buyback program?

For the 2021 season, under the NFL’s rules pertaining to its current jersey manufacturing partners, a player would have to buy out the existing allotment of jerseys featuring their current number, before they could be allowed to switch numbers. That will not be the case in 2022.  How so?

Per the rules, players will just be required to give notice to the team of their intention to change numbers. But they won’t have to buy up any current inventory. (Perhaps the more frugal players will wait until 2022 to switch?)  If you wanna switch jersey numbers, might cost you?

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NFL players are still restricted to only be allowed to wear uniform numbers between 1 and 99, and no two players on a team may wear the same number. For the number of players switching jersey numbers, it seems as though huge numbers of jerseys have been purchased overnight.