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Why some NFL players might not change numbers for 2021 season despite new uniform rules

Numbers, digits, numerals: no matter what you call ’em, it’s not going to be easy for players to change them heading into 2021. 

Among a few other changes, the NFL passed new jersey number rules on Wednesday, opening the door for lots of skill position players and defenders to maybe opt for different numbers, or perhaps college numbers, over the coming years.

So far, Jalen Ramsey, Robert Woods, Derrick Henry and others have expressed desire to change uniform digits for now, but in the words of Lee Corso, not so fast my friend. It’s not that simple.

MORE: NFL number rules, explained

Current NFL merchandise rules dictate this: If a player wishes to change his number for the 2021 NFL season, then he’ll have to buy out the current distribution inventory of uniforms. If a player gives notice to want to change his number for the 2022 NFL season, then he won’t have to buy out current jersey inventory and will be clear to change his number.

While current inventory varies on a player-by-player basis, it’s still likely a hefty price to pay for some players, depending on who. A superstar player’s number will likely come at a higher rate than a long snapper’s, for example.

But hey, look good, feel good, play good. That might be a fair trade off. 

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