Players who want to change to single-digit numbers may have to write a check

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With the NFL adopting the Chiefs’ proposal to allow a much wider swath of players to wear single-digit numbers, any player that tries to change his number may end up writing a check for something more than a sum in the single digits.

Recently, the league reiterated to PFT the policy regarding number changes by players. If a player requests a change for the upcoming year and there is existing inventory of unsold jerseys with his current number on them, the player must purchase the unsold jerseys before the change happens. (At wholesale cost, not retail — presumably.) If the player declines to do so, they can remain in the number and change the following year, at no cost.

This rule will make it harder for the more popular players to change numbers, since it will be more likely that they’ll have unsold inventory than a player for whom a standing supply of pre-made jerseys is not readily available.

The rule also seems unfair to players. Teams can cut players, trade players, etc. at no financial consequence if jerseys become wasted. Players, however, can’t change numbers without potentially having to pay a price.

That could end up being a factor in the inevitable game of single-digit musical chairs that will play out in many NFL locker rooms, now that running backs, receivers, tight ends, linebackers, and defensive backs can wear them.