How Jalen Mills' number change impacts Patriots QB Brian Hoyer

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Jalen Mills' number change leaves Brian Hoyer low on options originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Ja'Whaun Bentley won't be an outlier in New England, after all.

The Patriots linebacker became the first player in Foxboro to take advantage of the NFL's rule change allowing single-digit jersey numbers last week by switching from No. 51 to No. 8.

On Monday night, new cornerback Jalen Mills announced he's following suit by choosing No. 2 with the Patriots.

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The switch made sense for Mills, as the two numbers he wore with the Philadelphia Eagles -- 31 and 21 -- are taken by defensive backs Jonathan Jones and Adrian Phillips in New England.

But Mills' decision also complicates sartorial matters for quarterback Brian Hoyer, whose return to the Patriots was revealed shortly after Mills' announcement Monday.

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Hoyer wore No. 2 in his three most recent stints with the Patriots in 2017, 2018 and 2020, so he'll need a new number. But the number he wore during his first three seasons in New England (No. 8) is now occupied by Bentley.

In fact, all four of the numbers Hoyer has worn in his 12-year NFL career are taken in Foxboro.

No. 2

CB Jalen Mills

No. 6

K Nick Folk

No. 7

P Jake Bailey

No. 8

LB Ja'Whaun Bentley

So, if the 35-year-old has designs on making the Patriots' final roster (which is far from a guarantee), he'll need to do some negotiating or pick a fifth number.

No. 12 is available, Brian. Just saying.