Eric Decker wore No. 87 for his first four NFL seasons, all with the Broncos. But when he signed a five-year, $36.25 million contract with the Jets last month, tight end Jeff Cumberland owned No. 87. Until this week, that is. Decker reportedly used some of his new-found riches to pry the number from Cumblerland's clutches.
Specifically, Decker forked over $25,000 -- and a steak dinner -- according to the New York Post's Manish Mehta. Cumberland will now wear No. 85, though we'd imagine he'd wear 00 if the price was right.
There's a long history of new players negotiating for their old numbers. When Plaxico Burress signed with the Giants before the 2005 season, he wanted No. 17, which belonged to punter Jeff Feagles, who happily parted with the number when Burress agreed to pay to remodel Feagles' outdoor kitchen.
One problem: Burress stiffed Feagles.
I never got paid for it," Feagles said back in 2010. "I asked [Burress] for it. Every time I went to [Burress' agent] Drew [Rosenhaus] he said, 'That's between you and Plax.' Bottom line, I never got paid. He basically stole my number."
And then there's Clinton Portis, who was traded to the Redskins prior to the 2004 season and worked out a deal with Redskins safety Ifeanyi Ohalete for No. 26, Portis' number with the Broncos. The two settled on $40,000 and other gifts, according to this 2005 Washington Post story, but once Ohalete was released before the 2005 season, Portis chose not to pay the remaining $20,000 owed, since he would have gotten No. 26 anyway.
Instead of taking the law into his own hands, however, Ohalete took Portis to court and the two sides eventually reached an $18,000 settlement.