The New Orleans Saints have retired six jersey numbers in the franchise’s history to honor some of their greatest players. When a jersey number is retired, it means no future Saints player can wear that number on their uniform as a sign of respect and tribute to the retired player.
History of Retired Saints Jerseys
The New Orleans Saints joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1967. Over five decades, the franchise has seen some incredibly talented players suit up in the black and gold. While many great players have come through New Orleans, only a select few have received the ultimate honor of having their jersey number retired by the franchise.
The Saints first retired a number in 1982 when they honored #31 Jim Taylor. It would be another decade before they retired a second number, this time immortalizing #81 Doug Atkins in 1992. In the 2000s, the team retired three more numbers for standout players #57 Rickey Jackson in 2000, #51 Sam Mills in 2005, and #93 Joe Horn in 2012.
The most recent number retirement came in 2021 when the Saints honored #9 Drew Brees. Brees spent 15 seasons in New Orleans, rewriting the franchise record books and leading the team to its first Super Bowl win. His retirement ceremony cemented his place in Saints history among the all-time greats.
The 6 Retired New Orleans Saints Jersey Numbers
Here is the full list of numbers that have been retired by the New Orleans Saints franchise:
|Player||Number||Position||Seasons with Saints||Year Number Retired|
#31 Jim Taylor
Running back Jim Taylor played just two seasons for the Saints but was one of the franchise’s first stars. Taylor was already a legendary Packers running back when he joined New Orleans in 1967 for the team’s inaugural season. He led the NFL in rushing touchdowns in his first Saints season and became the first Saint inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
#81 Doug Atkins
Defensive end Doug Atkins spent the final three seasons of his illustrious career with the Saints. Atkins was a true NFL legend, earning eight Pro Bowl selections during his time with the Browns and Bears. His brief run in New Orleans was still impactful, as Atkins totaled 16.5 sacks before retiring in 1969.
#57 Rickey Jackson
Linebacker Rickey Jackson spent 13 incredible seasons in New Orleans and is considered the greatest Saint of the franchise’s early decades. The six-time Pro Bowler was a dominant pass rushing force, recording 123 sacks in his Saints career. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
#51 Sam Mills
Sam Mills joined New Orleans after beginning his career in the USFL and quickly established himself as a team leader and one of the best linebackers in the NFL. His toughness and character epitomized those great Saints teams of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Mills earned four straight Pro Bowl nods from 1987-1990.
#87 Joe Horn
Wide receiver Joe Horn became a Saint in 2000 and immediately had a career year, topping 1,300 receiving yards. His flashy touchdown celebrations made him a fan favorite. Horn reached four Pro Bowls during his seven years in New Orleans and led the NFL in touchdown catches in 2004.
#9 Drew Brees
No Saint has made a bigger impact on the franchise than Drew Brees. He signed with New Orleans in 2006 after a major shoulder injury and went on to rewrite every major passing record in team history. Brees led the Saints to six division titles, three NFC title games, and their only Super Bowl win in 2009, taking home MVP honors that year.
Will More Numbers Be Retired?
With six numbers currently retired, the Saints have honored many of the greatest players in franchise history. However, several current and recent Saints legends could receive consideration for this prestigious honor in the future.
The next most likely candidate is linebacker Pat Swilling, who was a pass rushing force for the team in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Swilling’s 107.5 career sacks rank second in Saints history behind Rickey Jackson. Former running back Deuce McAllister also put up prolific numbers throughout the 2000s and remains a beloved figure among fans.
Two active Saints players who will merit consideration down the road are quarterback Drew Brees and running back Alvin Kamara. Brees seemingly is a lock for number retirement as the franchise’s all-time passing leader. Kamara has emerged in recent seasons as one of the most electrifying offensive players in Saints history and already ranks in the top 10 for career rushing yards in New Orleans.
As time passes, additional franchise greats are likely to see their numbers immortalized by the New Orleans Saints. For now, though, only six jerseys hang in the rafters at the Caesars Superdome. Those numbers reflect the highest individual honors this franchise can bestow.
The six retired jersey numbers of the New Orleans Saints franchise represent some of the greatest players ever to suit up in black and gold. These legends span several different eras of Saints history, from the inaugural seasons in the late 1960s through recent times.
Players like Rickey Jackson, Sam Mills, and Drew Brees helped transform the Saints from laughingstocks in their early years into perennial contenders and eventual Super Bowl champions. The retired numbers at the Caesars Superdome stand as lasting tributes to these icons who made Saints football what it is today.
While the list of retired numbers may grow in the coming years, these six players have already solidified their places among the pantheon of New Orleans football greats. Their contributions on and off the field have shaped the team’s identity through decades of Saints football.