Christian McCaffrey almost joined the long list of players that changed jersey numbers, complying with the NFL's loosened restrictions on jersey numbers a player can wear at certain positions. McCaffrey admitted he contemplated switching from No. 22 to No. 5 this season, but the monetary value of switching numbers this year was too great.
"Won't be this year. We'll see," McCaffrey said on a conference call at Panthers minicamp. "That's a number that means a lot to me. It would be a good check to change this year. I have no idea if I'll switch, but I'm No. 22 this year."
McCaffrey wore No. 5 at Stanford before donning No. 22 once he was selected eighth overall in the 2017 draft. His impact at Carolina has been franchise-altering since Day 1, holding the franchise record for most scrimmage yards by any player in first four seasons with the Panthers (5,817). He became the third player in NFL history with more than 1,000 rushing yards and 100 receptions in single season (2018) then followed that up by becoming the third player in NFL history to record 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season (2019).
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McCaffrey's 116 receptions in 2019 are the most ever for a running back in a season. He's the only running back to rush for 1,000 yards and catch 100 passes in a season twice (2018, 2019) and the only player in league history to rush for 1,000 yards, catch 100 passes, and record 1,000 receiving yards in a season (2019).
If McCaffrey were to switch jersey numbers this season, it would cost him a pretty penny in inventory to make the move a year early. Under the NFL guidelines, a player who changes jersey numbers for 2021 must purchase the unsold inventory of jerseys under their old number. If the player waits until 2022, they won't owe a dime -- enough incentive for McCaffrey to wait a year.
For now, McCaffrey will be setting more records in the No. 22.