Nickell Robey-Coleman, the newest Eagles cornerback, is facing a classic tough decision: does he fight for his old jersey number, or does he pick a new one?
It's a conundrum countless athletes have faced before. Robey-Coleman, a veteran, most recently wore No. 23, but the Eagles already have a No. 23 in safety Rodney McLeod, ostensibly the leader of the secondary with Malcolm Jenkins gone.
McLeod already managed to keep No. 23 safe once this offseason, when the Eagles traded for star corner Darius Slay. Slay said he plans on wearing No. 24 in a tribute to Kobe Bryant.
On Monday, Robey-Coleman raised the question of his jersey number to his Instagram followers:
If he wants to keep No. 23, it's going to be a tough sell. Usually, incoming players have to be significantly better than the player wearing the number in order to steal it away. It also helps to have a strong connection to the number.
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In Robey-Coleman's case, McLeod is a better player, and Robey-Coleman doesn't have a clear bond with No. 23: he previously wore No. 37 with the Bills from 2013 to 2015, and then wore No. 21 with the Bills in 2016. He only wore No. 23 with the Rams, for three years.
It's possible Robey-Coleman returns to No. 21, which is available after Ronald Darby's departure. It's a classic cornerback number, it's the number Robey-Coleman wore in college at USC, and it has a special place in recent Eagles history: Patrick Robinson wore No. 21 when he orchestrated the greatest pick-six in franchise history.
The rest of the low 20s are kind of taken. He's not wearing Brian Dawkins' No. 20, Sidney Jones has No. 22, McLeod and Slay have Nos. 23 and 24, and LeSean McCoy's No. 25 is probably still untouchable.
If I had to guess, Robey-Coleman will be wearing No. 21 in his first appearance with the Eagles. He even acknowledged in his Instagram comments on Monday that the jersey mockup he posted will probably need a new edit.
But only he and McLeod know for sure.
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