Patrick Chung’s message for Kyle Dugger as he takes over wearing No. 23

Chung announced his retirement from football in March.

Patrick Chung No. 23
Patrick Chung dives for the ball during a Patriots-Bills game in 2019. AP Photo/Ron Schwane

With the Patriots’ organized team activities starting in the buildup to the 2021 season, a few players have already revealed that they will be switching numbers.

While every number available has some history behind it (having been worn by previous Patriots), one in particular has some recent relevance for New England safeties.

Patrick Chung, who played with the Patriots for 10 seasons, announced his retirement in March. The 33-year-old opted out of the 2020 season, and elected to step away from his playing career after helping New England win three Super Bowls.

Chung’s old number, 23, will be passed on to fellow safety, Kyle Dugger. The 25-year-old Dugger was a second-round pick (like Chung), playing his rookie season as No. 35.


In response to the change in numbers, Chung wished his successor luck.

“Wear it well young savage,” Chung wrote in a tweet, tagging Dugger.

While Chung did not play for the Patriots during Dugger’s rookie season, the younger safety did get to hear from him.

“He definitely still chimes in and helps out, gives a lot of tips and things to look for when going into a game,” Dugger told reporters of Chung’s influence in December 2020. “So any time he chimes in, I’m definitely always listening and trying to pick up whatever he’s telling me.”

Dugger is far from the only Patriot who will wear a different number in 2021. Given the league rule changes — allowing defensive players to wear single-digit numbers — New England’s roster will read a little differently.

Here are a few examples of some new numbers on the team’s roster:

  • Nelson Agholor, wide receiver: No. 13
  • Ja’Whaun Bentley, linebacker: No. 8
  • Brandon Bolden, running back: No. 25
  • Brian Hoyer, quarterback: No. 5
  • Matthew Judon, edge rusher: No. 9
  • Jalen Mills, defensive back: No. 2


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