New England Patriots

May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton (51) does a drill at the team's OTA at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

  • The days of looking at wide receivers, running backs, and defensive backs wearing numbers in the 50’s and 60’s is finally over (at least for this year). This year’s Patriots’ rookie class was assigned their real numbers on Thursday, ahead of the team’s preseason opener.

    Before you go rushing out to buy a jersey, remember that it’s not guaranteed the rookies will keep these numbers into the regular season. While most do, some wait until final roster cuts to see what other numbers become available. For instance, last year Chrisitan Barmore wore 70 in the preseason before making the switch to 90 for Week 1.

    But for the next three weeks, here’s the numbers the Patriots’ rookie class will be wearing…

  • G Cole Strange: 69

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots offensive lineman Cole Strange (50) walks onto the field before training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots offensive lineman Cole Strange (50) walks onto the field before training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Strange gets number No. 69, the same number he wore in college. Only seven Patriots have previously worn the number, including Shaq Mason and Julius Adams.

  • WR Tyquan Thornton: 11

    Patriots training camp at Gillette's practice field. Pats Camp

    Wide receiver Tyquan Thornton during Patriots training camp on July 28, 2022. (Syndication: The Providence Journal)

    All of Thornton’s previous numbers are currently taken in New England. He wore No. 81 (Jonnu Smith) and No. 9 (Matthew Judon) at Baylor, and No. 4 (Malcolm Butler) in high school. So he ends up with a number that some though might be unofficially off the table following Julian Edelman’s retirement. This is one that could change before the regular season, but if not he will look to follow up Edelman and Drew Bledsoe in what has been a solid 30-plus year run for No. 11.

  • More: Sports Hub Patriots Podcast


    (Click here to subscribe to the Sports Hub Patriots Podcast and Patriots Audio on 98.5 The Sports Hub.)

  • CB Marcus Jones: 25

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive back Marcus Jones (52) talks with the media after training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive back Marcus Jones (52) talks with the media after training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Marcus Jones wore No. 5 and No. 9 in high school, then No. 8 in college. All of those are currently taken, so he goes with No. 25. Notable defensive backs to wear that number with the Patriots including Kyle Arrington and Patrick Chung in his first stint with the team. It was worn by Brandon Bolden last year.

  • CB Jack Jones: 34

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive back Jack Jones (53) during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive back Jack Jones (53) during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Jack Jones wore No. 0 in college, but that’s not currently allowed in the NFL. No. 34 is a sneaky-good number though, having played a key role on a number of Super Bowl teams. Defensive back Tebucky Jones wore it during the team’s first title, Shane Vereen was one of the best players in the win over the Seahawks, and Rex Burkhead donned it during the sixth title run.

  • RB Pierre Strong Jr.: 35

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots running back Pierre Strong Jr (54) during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots running back Pierre Strong Jr (54) during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Pierre Strong Jr. was the Patriots’ next pick after Jack Jones, and he’ll follow Jones on the roster as well. His college No. 20 was the first retired by the team, in 1971 in honor of Gino Cappelletti. Instead he lands No. 35 which belonged to one of the best running backs in franchise history, Jim Nance.

  • QB Bailey Zappe: 4

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (55) throws the ball during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (55) throws the ball during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    It took 14 years for the Patriots to reissue No. 4 after the departure of Adam Vinatieri. That changed with Jarrett Stidham in 2019, and now it appeared to be back in the regular rotation. That’s good news for Bailey Zappe, who has worn the number since high school. However, if both he and Malcolm Butler – also currently wearing 4 – make the team, one will have to change.

  • RB Kevin Harris: 36

    May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Kevin Harris carries the ball at the team's OTA at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Kevin Harris carries the ball at the team’s OTA at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Both rookie running backs will be back-to-back on the roster, with Strong’s No. 35 followed by Kevin Harris’ No. 36. Like Strong, Harris also wore No. 20 in college. This has traditionally been a defensive back number in New England, with two of the more notable players to wear it being Lawyer Milloy and James Sanders.

  • DL Sam Roberts: 96

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots defensive lineman Sam Roberts (59) during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots defensive lineman Sam Roberts (59) during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Roberts wore No. 98 in college, but with Carl Davis currently wearing that he stays close with No. 96. This number hasn’t seen much pop in the dynasty era, but was worn by two great Patriots defensive linemen in the 80s and 90s in Brent Williams and Mike Jones.

  • G Chasen Hines: 63

    In college, Chasen Hines was one of the rare offensive linemen to wear a number in the 50s, rocking No. 57. The Patriots have that retired for Steve Nelson, so Hines gets No. 63. The Patriots have won four Super Bowls with that number on the starting offensive line between Joe Andruzzi and Dan Connolly.

  • OL Andrew Stueber: 64

    Michael Onwenu has Andrew Stueber’s college No. 71, so he goes to No. 64. This is another number that hasn’t seen much use in the Bill Belichick era, although Greg Randall wore it during the team’s first Super Bowl run.

  • P Jake Julien: 9

    Onto the UDFAs, and we start with Jake Julien. This is an interesting one, as No. 9 is already taken by Matthew Judon. So either Judon is changing his number (his previous number from Baltimore, 99, was taken last year but is now available), or the Patriots don’t plan on keeping Julien much longer.

  • EDGE DaMarcus Mitchell: 97

    After wearing No. 15 in college, DaMarcus Mitchell jumps to the other end of the numerical roster now wearing No. 97. This number has had success in the front seven in New England before, between Jarvis Green and Alan Branch.

  • DL LaBryan Ray: 74

    LaBryan Ray wore No. 89 and No. 18 in college, two numbers that he can’t wear in the NFL both because they’re taken (89 is retired for Bob Dee, 18 is Matthew Slater) and outside his position range. Instead he gets No. 74, which hasn’t been worn regularly since Kyle Love from 2010-2012. This is another number that could change if/when Ray makes the team.

  • OL Kody Russey: 66

    Kody Russey is just one off from his college number, going from No. 65 to No. 66. However, he’s a rare example of a player keeping the number they got during the rookie numbering process (he’s been wearing 66 all summer).

  • S Brenden Schooler: 41

     

    Brenden flipped his college No. 14 to No. 41 with the Patriots. This was Myles Bryant’s number last year before he switched to No. 27. No. 41 has traditionally been a special teams number with the Patriots, which is fitting given Schooler has worked extensively with the coverage specialists during camp.

  • One other takeaway…

    Among the numbers not issues by the team is No. 54. Seven of 15 rookies would have been eligible to wear it.

    That number, of course, has belonged to Dont’a Hightower for the last decade. Hightower remains a free agent, although reports have hinted he could return to Foxborough if he decides not to retire. Are the Patriots keeping his number open for him?

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.