Raiders who could change jersey numbers under proposed rule

Darren Waller

Change is continuing to come to the NFL in the 2021 season. 

After announcing that the 2021 season will now have 17 regular season games, the NFL reportedly is expected to pass a rule that will have less restriction on the jersey numbers that players can wear. 

The NFL appears to be going with a jersey structure similar to the college game with number ranges for defensive backs, linebackers, running backs and wide receivers into the single digits, with quarterbacks remaining at Nos. 1-19:

Running backs, wide receivers, tight ends: 1-49, 80-89

Offensive linemen: 50-79

Defensive linemen: 50-79, 90-99

Linebackers: 1-59, 90-99

Defensive backs: 1-49

Kickers and punters: 1-19

Some franchise cornerstones have become synonymous with their current number, but it is still fun to imagine them in some new threads in the upcoming campaign.


Here are five current members of the Las Vegas Raiders who may take advantage of a number change: 

Josh Jacobs 

Current jersey number: 28 | Potential 2021 number: 8

You don’t have to go far down the Raiders' roster to find the first player who will likely look to take advantage of the NFL’s proposed jersey rule. Jacobs wore No. 8 at Alabama and would likely shed the “2” in front of his current jersey number to get back to his Tuscaloosa roots.

Darren Waller

Current jersey number: 83 | Potential 2021 number: 8

Josh Jacobs isn’t the only Raider vying for the No. 8, and that’s because Waller wore No. 88 in college at Georgia Tech. Already a blossoming NFL superstar, Waller’s jersey change could turn him into an even marketable player.

Kenyan Drake

Current jersey number: 41 | Potential 2021 number: 17

Jacobs and Drake come from the same college football program -- Alabama -- but luckily for Jon Gruden and the team’s equipment managers, there won’t be a three-way fight for No. 8 as the newly-acquired Drake donned No. 17 while playing for the Crimson Tide. Drake, who will be on his third team in 2021, could be wearing his third NFL jersey number this fall. 

Yannick Ngakoue 

Current jersey number: 91 | Potential 2021 number: 17

Something about the Raiders and not playing nice. Yeah, that’s right -- the No. 17 will have to be a showdown between Las Vegas’ two new signees. Ngakoue might have terrorized NFL passers wearing No. 91, but long before that, he rocked the digits in the teens at Maryland. Like Waller, his jersey sales would skyrocket as an outside linebacker with a new, low-digit number. 


Henry Ruggs III 

Current jersey number: 28 | Potential 2021 number: 8

Hey, wait a minute. The speedy 2021 first-round pick wore No. 11 at Alabama and for the Raiders last year, why would he change his number? Maybe it has something to do with a disappointing rookie season. Or maybe it’s just as simple as: Nothing says Vegas like No. 1 and, as the team’s top receiver, all Ruggs III has to do is shred a digit from his current jersey number and he will have Sin City -- and quite possibly the rest of the NFL -- on lookout. 

And a former Raider who could have benefited from this rule change:

Charles Woodson 

Career number: 24 | Number under rule change: 2

Raider fans might be a little miffed to lose such a legendary number, but even the most staunch defender of No. 24 would agree that the 1997 Heisman Trophy winner and NFL Hall of Fame honoree is best suited to wear his collegiate No. 2. If only the NFL had acted a little faster with this proposed rule change, we wouldn’t have to be litigating it out on the internet.