Bears safety Eddie Jackson will sport a new look this season, changing jersey numbers from No. 39 to No. 4—the number he wore at Alabama.
Jackson was permitted to make the switch thanks to a new rule approved by NFL owners during the offseason that expanded the range of numbers certain position groups are allowed to wear. Defensive backs, for instance, were previously limited to Nos. 20-49. But with the new rule, they can now also wear Nos. 1-19.
Jackson, a 2017 fourth-round draft pick, wore No. 39 in each of his first four seasons with the Bears, earning two trips to the Pro Bowl. His six career defensive touchdowns are tied for the third most in franchise history with Lance Briggs behind Charles Tillman (9) and Mike Brown (7).
Another Bears veteran has taken advantage of the new guidelines, with running back Damien Williams changing from No. 25 to No. 8. Williams signed with the Bears March 26 after opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. He wore No. 34 in 2014-15 and No. 26 in 2016-17 in four seasons with the Miami Dolphins and No. 26 in 2018-19 in two years with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Other Bears who have switched to new numbers they were previously permitted to wear include receiver Javon Wims from No. 83 to No. 15 and cornerback Artie Burns from No. 24 to No. 25.
The Bears already announced that first-round draft choice Justin Fields would wear No. 1, the number the quarterback wore at Ohio State. But they also revealed Thursday that their other six picks would don the following numbers (draft round and overall selection in parentheses):
24: Khalil Herbert, running back (6-217)
27: Thomas Graham Jr., cornerback (6-228)
75: Larry Borom, tackle (5-151)
76: Teven Jenkins, tackle (2-39)
83: Dazz Newsome, receiver (6-221)
95: Khyiris Tonga, nose tackle (7-250)
Senior writer Larry Mayer ranks his 10 favorite Bears players who changed jersey numbers prior to the 2021 season.