- Covered NFL since 1997, Cowboys since 2003
- Previously covered Bengals and Dolphins
- Lives in Dallas area with his wife and two children
FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith is making a number switch, moving from No. 54 to No. 9, the team announced Tuesday.
The number change will come at a mid-six-figure cost, according to multiple sources.
To make the move to No. 9, had to buy out the current inventory of No. 54 jerseys and t-shirts, which follows NFL rules. Had he said he would change his number in 2022, it would not cost him any money.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones gave Smith the blessing to make the change. A source said Smith reached out to Tony Romo, who wore the number from 2003 to ’16, about the switch as well.
The NFL changed its number policy this offseason, allowing linebackers to wear Nos. 1-59 and 90-99. Smith wore No. 9 at Notre Dame and chose No. 54 with the Cowboys because the numbers added up to nine. Fellow linebacker, Micah Parsons, the Cowboys’ first-round pick, is wearing No. 11, his number at Penn State.
Romo is the franchise leader in passing yards and touchdown passes and especially close to the Jones’ family. The Cowboys do not officially retire jerseys, but nobody has worn Bob Lilly’s No. 74, Roger Staubach’s No. 12, Troy Aikman’s No. 8 or Emmitt Smith’s No. 22 since the Hall of Famers last wore them. No. 88 is a legendary number as well with Hall of Famers Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin having worn it as well as Dez Bryant, the franchise leader in touchdown catches. Last year’s first-round pick CeeDee Lamb currently carries the No. 88 tradition.
The No. 54 has a deep history with the Cowboys, too. Hall of Fame defensive lineman Randy White wore the number from 1975-88 and Ring of Honor linebacker Chuck Howley wore it from 1961-73.
“We are very aware of what happens relative to the personalities and identification with a number. It’s not frivolous,” Jones said during the draft. “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 around here, and we’re pretty sensitive about No. 8, 22. Those are decisions that we’ll make, and we’ll make as a club. I will say, this is a club decision.”
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