FRISCO, Texas — Linebacker Micah Parsons, selected No. 12 overall in the 2021 NFL draft, will get his wish and wear No. 11 for the Dallas Cowboys. So, does this mark the beginning of different jersey numbers for Cowboys’ players?
The Cowboys Pro Shop is selling No. 11 jerseys with Parsons, taking advantage of a recent leaguewide rule change that will allow linebackers to wear jerseys between Nos. 1-19 and 90-99.
Asked a few minutes after he was drafted last week if he would like to wear No. 11 with the Cowboys, like he did at Penn State, Parsons said yes.
“It means everything to continue that Linebacker U tradition,” Parsons said, referencing former Nittany Lions LaVar Arrington and NaVorro Bowman, who wore No. 11 in college. “I’m just going to keep that pipeline going.”
One issue, though: Cowboys wide receiver Cedrick Wilson has worn No. 11 for the past two seasons.
When he arrived at The Star last Friday, Parsons said he wanted to speak with Wilson to see if they could switch numbers.
“I’m pretty sure we can figure something out,” Parsons said.
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones interjected with, “What negotiation?”
It turns out Wilson is likely to move to No. 1, his number at Boise State now that wide receivers can wear jersey Nos. 1-49 and 80-89.
Jones was influential on 2020 first-round pick CeeDee Lamb‘s decision to wear No. 88 as Jones looked to carry on the tradition from former Cowboys receiver greats Drew Pearson to Michael Irvin to Dez Bryant.
Recently, Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith discussed the possibility of switching from No. 54 to to No. 9, his number jersey while at Notre Dame. Tony Romo, the franchise leader in passing yards and touchdown passes — and a Jones’ favorite — wore the No. 9 jersey from 2003 to 2016.
Jones said some Cowboys players have asked about what the number switch would mean, but he did not identify them directly.
In order for veteran players to switch numbers immediately, they would have to buy out the inventory of their jersey and T-shirts. Smith has a large inventory and could have to pay a lot of money to make the move to No. 9. A player could petition for a new number next year and it would not cost them any money.
Former safety Roy Williams switched from No. 31 to No. 38 later in his Cowboys career after waiting a year.
“We are very aware of what happens relative to the personalities and identification with a number. It’s not frivolous,” Jones said after the first night of the draft on April 29. “It’ll be considered, but certainly will have to be considered in light of some of the other things that you do and not the least of which is all the things that are out here that have that identification with that personality with that number.
“We’re pretty sensitive about No. 12 [Roger Staubach] around here, and we’re pretty sensitive about No. 8, 22 [Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith]. Those are decisions that we’ll make, and we’ll make as a club. I will say, this is a club decision.”