Earlier this week the Seattle Seahawks surprised fans and observers when they agreed to terms on a contract to bring back cornerback Artie Burns.
Burns, of course, is a former first round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers who originally signed with the Seahawks as a free agent ahead of the 2022 season after having spent the 2021 season with the Chicago Bears, where he played for Sean Desai. Despite high hopes for Burns, an injury landed him on the sideline for most of training camp, and thus he was unable to capitalize on the open competition at cornerback and appeared in just three games during the 2022 season.
During the 2022 season Burns wore jersey number 21, however, the Seahawks recently gave that number to fifth overall pick Devon Witherspoon, meaning it was not available for Burns upon his return. Given the fact that there are currently 89 other players on the roster, and five retired numbers, the only numbers available for Burns were as follows:
Due to NFL rules regarding what numbers defensive backs are allowed to wear, 61, 69 and 99 were not actual options, leaving just 3, 43 and 48. None of those are all that close to the 21 Burns wore in 2022, nor are any of them close to the number 25 that he wore with both the Bears and the Steelers. In any case, the team gave him the lowest of those three available numbers.
Perhaps that number was chosen simply because 2 + 1 = 3, or perhaps because 43 and 48 are rather unbecoming a cornerback. In any case, Burns will be the first member of the Seahawks to wear number 3 since Russell Wilson, which makes the number assignment noteworthy.