2021 Offseason Questions: Will Any Steelers Change Jersey Numbers?

JuJu Smith-Schuster

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Will any Steelers players change their jerseys this year to a number previously unavailable to their position?

While the NFL just passed a rule that will make things much easier for new players and those who change teams, giving teams a wider variety of options to assign numbers, it is inevitable that there will be players who haven’t changed teams who want to change their number to one that is now available to them.

A couple of Steelers players that I’m aware of, namely JuJu Smith-Schuster and Joe Haden, and likely others as well, have commented on the change, at least expressing interest, whether genuine or not. Both wore numbers in the single digits in college that they were not allowed to wear in the NFL due to their positions. Of course, other players wear those numbers.

The focus has been on players having access to single-digit numbers, but the reality is that a lot of other numbers have opened up depending upon the position group as well. I’m sure there are others who would at least consider changing their number, whether it’s reverting back to their college number or something else.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a really minor topic, talking about the number on a player’s uniform. But these things do matter to players, which is why we see them occasionally change them. It was just a few years ago that several Steelers players changed their jersey numbers to ones they felt more comfortable in or that meant something to them. As they say, look good, feel good. Feel good, play good.

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