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NFL approves new number rule; which Browns players could be getting new jersey numbers?

The NFL has voted to approve a rule increasing how many jersey numbers are available to be worn by specific position groups.

CLEVELAND — If you're a stickler for accuracy, don't get too comfortable in your favorite Cleveland Browns jersey just yet; a new rule passed by the NFL's owners could soon make some of them outdated.

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On Wednesday, the NFL owners voted to pass a rule increasing the jersey numbers that are available to specific position groups. As a result of the new rule, jersey number choices for players will be less restrictive, with the following digits now available to the following positions:

  • Quarterback: 1-19
  • Running back: 1-49, 80-89
  • Wide receiver: 1-49, 80-89
  • Tight end: 1-49, 80-89
  • Offensive line: 50-79
  • Defensive line: 50-79, 90-99
  • Linebacker: 1-59, 90-99
  • Defensive back: 1-49
  • Kicker/punter: 1-19

Like many other teams, the new rule could have a significant impact on the Browns, with many of the team's players having worn jersey numbers in college that they weren't previously permitted to wear in the NFL. One look at Cleveland's roster shows several players who could potentially swap jersey numbers, with these players having worn jersey numbers in college that they will now be allowed to wear at the professional level:

  • RB Kareem Hunt 3
  • WR Odell Beckham Jr. 3
  • WR Donovan Peoples-Jones 9
  • TE Austin Hooper 18
  • CB Denzel Ward 12
  • CB Greedy Williams 5
  • CB Troy Hill 13
  • S John Johnson III 9
  • S Grant Delpit 7
  • S Ronnie Harrison 15
  • LB Mack Wilson 30
  • LB Sione Takitaki 16
  • LB Jacob Phillips 6
  • LB Anthony Walker 1,18

How NFL teams will go about distributing numbers to players who want to switch digits remains unclear. But at least one Browns player has already hinted at making a change as soon as possible.

As for when these potential jersey changes might happen, players will be permitted to wear the newly allowed numbers as soon as the 2021 season. But as ESPN's Kevin Seifert noted, any player who wants to change jerseys immediately will first be required to buy out the existing inventory of jersey distributors.


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