When the NFL announced it would loosen restrictions on jersey numbers, it sent shockwaves through the league as fans and players speculated on potential changes. One of those players was Jaylon Smith, who didn’t hesitate to upload an edited picture of himself wearing #9 in his Dallas Cowboys uniform.

What was once an Instagram story that only remained up for 24 hours is now a permanent change for the Cowboys Linebacker.

According to ESPN’s Todd Archer, Jaylon Smith paid “close to mid-six figures” to make the number change. Even before the recent rule change, the NFL required players to buy out the current inventory of their jerseys if they wanted to make a change within the same year.

Smith could’ve waited until 2022 to make the change for free, but instead chose to pay and wear #9 now.

It’s impossible to discuss this news without pointing out the elephant in the room. In Dallas Cowboys history, #9 is Tony Romo’s number. Forever a controversial figure among Cowboys fans, fans’ reactions to the news will vary.

Some will argue Tony Romo’s number should be retired by the franchise while others will say Romo’s legacy isn’t great enough for #9 to be untouchable. I’m not here to debate that today, but I’ll say that I didn’t expect the front office to allow such a move. Especially given Jaylon Smith’s position right now.

Smith’s future in the Cowboys remains uncertain in the long-term. He isn’t going anywhere this season but in 2022, the front office will have a tough decision to make at linebacker. He even was a potential cap casualty this year after argubaly the worst year of his career.

The Cowboys recently drafted two linebackers including first-round draft pick Micah Parsons. The Penn State product didn’t arrive to watch from the sidelines. Smith will have to earn his playing time competing against Parsons and Leighton Vander Esch. Next year, we’ll likely be having discussions on Vander Esch vs. Smith.

However, it’s important to note that Jaylon isn’t making this switch to troll Cowboys Nation. Before the NFL, he wore it all of his life. When Louis Nix III passed away earlier this year, Smith posted on Instagram a story of how Nix III didn’t hesitate to hand him #9 at Notre Dame.

It’s only a jersey number, after all, but those matter for players and fans. Now it’s up to Jaylon Smith to live up to his jersey.

By the way, Jaylon Smith wasn’t the only Dallas Cowboy to make a switch as Donovan Wilson will change from #37 to #6, his former college football number. After a breakout season in 2020, Wilson will probably settle in as a box safety this season.

As someone who doesn’t love how #37 looks, I love Donovan Wilson’s decision.

Earlier in the offseason, WR Cedrick Wilson had to make a change after Micah Parsons took #11. As a result, Cedrick Wilson took #1, which he wore at Boise State.

Featured Image Via Kareem Elgazza – USA Today