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Kirk Cousins’ desire to wear Kyle Pitts’ No. 8 with Falcons would have cost ‘several hundred thousand’ dollars

In Sports
April 05, 2024
Kirk Cousins will have to wear No. 18 for the Atlanta Falcons after a potential number change with tight end Kyle Pitts fell through due to NFL rules. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Kirk Cousins will have to wear No. 18 for the Atlanta Falcons after a potential number change with tight end Kyle Pitts fell through due to NFL rules. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

It seemed like an easily swap for Kirk Cousins and Kyle Pitts. But little did the new Atlanta Falcons teammates know, changing jersey numbers would end up being a very costly decision.

Cousins has worn No. 8 since the 2014 NFL season with Washington. Pitts has been No. 8 since entering the league in 2021. So after Cousins chose to leave the Minnesota Vikings, where he’d worn No. 8 since 2018, and join the Falcons, there was a question — posed by Pitts on X — about who would wear the number going forward in Atlanta.

It happens often in sports where a player will cut a check or gift a teammate something special — like a Porsche, for instance — in order to acquire a jersey number. During his introductory press conference, Cousins said he reached out to Pitts and offered up money or a charitable donation in exchange for No. 8. Cousins said Pitts jokingly asked for more targets next season in exchange.

In reality, as Cousins told The Big Podcast with Shaquille O’Neal this week, Pitts was already looking to change his number for the 2024 season. It just happened to work out that Cousins signed and has worn No. 8 in the past. But when they sought to make the change official, the NFL stepped in and told them that the swap was possible, but it was going to cost them for a very specific reason.

“He wanted to switch numbers anyways, so it was like a perfect fit. He was like, I want to switch numbers, you want No. 8, this is perfect,” Cousins said. “I was like, great. And then the league spoke into it. It was like, ‘Well, Kyle Pitts has a lot of jerseys that are No. 8 with Pitts on the back. You would have to buy every single one.’ … Both of us would have to write the check. … It was several hundred thousand [dollars]. So I was like, I’m good with 18. And Kyle was like, I’m good with 8. So we’re going with 8 and 18.”

A similar situation happened in baseball earlier this year. When Carlos Santana signed with the Minnesota Twins in February, pitcher Joe Ryan, who has worn No. 41 since 2022, was willing to give up the number to his new teammate. The only problem was, according the Collective Bargaining Agreement, number change requests must be made by July 31 of the previous season. If Santana really wanted No. 41 for the 2024 season, it was going to cost him $225,000 to buy out what was in MLB Licensing’s inventory for both players.

No check was cut and Santana has been wearing No. 30 for the Twins this season.

Cousins will take over under center wearing No. 18, which had been previously worn by wide receivers Mack Hollins and Calvin Ridley.

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