TAMPA, Fla. — We all know Tom Brady isn't a fan of the NFL's new jersey number flexibility. For a long time, the numbers have accurately reflected the positions of the players wearing them. Now, it will be more difficult - especially in an age of hybrid players and positionless defenses - to identify who is who and what the blocking assignments are supposed to be.
Like any other changes in sports, it will take some getting used to and before the end of the 2021 season, it will seem normal. And in spite of the seven-time Super Bowl champion's feelings, there are going to be some changes coming for the Buccaneers in terms of roster numbers. The question is, who and to what number?
It's pretty obvious that the top of the list is running back Leonard Fournette. He wore number 7 at LSU which wasn't an eligible running back number when he was drafted to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now, he has the opportunity to switch back to his college number and has even said as much on Twitter:
Outside of Fournette, who else could be looking to swap? Carlton Davis, the stand-out cornerback for the Bucs, wore number 6 at Auburn which is currently available for Tampa Bay. It seems he could be a safe bet to switch if the number 6 is that special to him now that he's able.
Someone else could switch to number 6 as well. Chris Godwin was recently on "10 Questions with Kyle Brandt" and mentioned he liked the rule change and since he no longer has his beloved number 12, he could potentially be interested in a single-digit look. Godwin specifically named the numbers 5, 6, and 7 as ones he would like. Assuming 7 is taken by Fournette and 5 is already claimed by wife receiver John Franklin, 6 would be the number Godwin could pursue.
A fun one to think about, which seems unlikely but would potentially become the hottest selling Buccaneers jersey overnight, would be a change by second-year safety Antoine Winfield Jr. Can you imagine Winfield Jr. trolling the NFL - more specifically, Kansas City Chiefs side receiver Tyreek Hill - by sporting a permanent "deuce" on his chest and wearing the number 2?
Maybe with the help of some negotiations, a player like Scotty Miller could coax the number 21 away from Ke'Shawn Vaughn, in turn, allowing Vaughn to set his sights on his old college number 5 that would need to be wrestled away from Franklin.
Of course, this is all a fun bit of speculation but the players that came up wearing single-digit numbers or numbers that weren't "position eligible" in the NFL now have far more options than ever before. Just don't be surprised when Leonard Fournette isn't the only one on the team that changes things up.
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