If Kirk Cousins had taken No. 8, someone would have had to buy the Kyle Pitts jerseys

Kirk Cousins is coming to Atlanta. He's leaving his preferred jersey behind.

The Falcons announced on Monday that Cousins will wear No. 18. Tight end Kyle Pitts will keep No. 8.

I first mentioned two weeks ago that Cousins and Pitts were talking about Pitts possibly surrendering the number. Pitts acted at the time as if it was fake news. Cousins, in his introductory press conference, said otherwise.

He confirmed that Pitts led the charge in recruiting Cousins from Minnesota. He said they've spoken about No. 8. Cousins added a caveat to the conversation.

"I do believe it's bigger than Kyle and I," Cousins said. "I think the league will start to speak into things, and we'll just see how that plays out."

The league's position, generally speaking, is that players can't suddenly change numbers without accounting for the existing inventory of jerseys bearing their current numbers.

"Without getting into any specific player(s), there is a longstanding NFL policy where a player can change his jersey but would have to buy out existing inventory if he wanted to make the switch prior to the upcoming season," chief NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said via email. "There’s no such provision if the player said he wanted to change the following year and would wear his current number for the upcoming season."

So it would be possible for Pitts to give Cousins No. 8 if everyone makes it clear that, for now, Cousins will wear No. 18 and Pitts will wear No. 8. However, who would buy a Cousins jersey or a Pitts jersey this year, if they planned to change their numbers in 2025?

Three years ago, former Vikings running back Dalvin Cook considered changing from No. 33 to No. 4, once the rules changed to allow running backs to wear single digits. Once he learned the cost would be in the seven digits, he decided to keep No. 33 for 2021 and switch to No. 4 in 2022.

It's unclear what it would have cost to buy out the existing inventory of Pitts jerseys. Cousins presumably would have paid the price. He apparently wasn't interested in doing that.

The rule continues to be a dumb one. Did the Bears have to buy the existing Justin Fields jerseys when they traded him? Did the Steelers get a bill for Kenny Pickett jerseys? Do the Broncos have to pay for the Russell Wilson jerseys?

In this case, maybe that should have been part of the negotiations. If Cousins has asked the Falcons to pay the bill for the existing Pitts jerseys, would the Falcons have said no?