So why didn’t Jarwin and Akins give up — or sell — their numbers to their higher-profile teammates? By NFL rules, they can’t.
The NFL’s rule book states that: “For competitive reasons, no player may change his uniform number once the regular season begins. . . . Special exceptions to this rule may be considered by the NFL Football Operations department depending on the circumstances (e.g., player traded to another team).”
Thus, a player going to a new team whose previous number is unavailable is assigned a new number.
Tate wore 15 in Detroit, but the Eagles retired that number in honor of Steve Van Buren. Tate will wear 19 in Philadelphia.
Clinton-Dix wore 21 in Green Bay. He will wear 20 in Washington as the team has not given out 21 since Sean Taylor’s death.
Ty Montgomery keeps his 88 in Baltimore despite the fact that he is listed as a running back, and not a receiver, and 88 is not an approved number for a running back. The reason?
According to the NFL rule book, “A change in jersey numeral is not required if the change is from an ineligible position to another ineligible position, or from an eligible position to another eligible position, provided that the player has participated at least one season at his position prior to the change.”