When Danny Shelton first glanced at the Browns roster upon his selection as the team's first-round pick, he knew he was in for another number switch.
Shelton, the No. 12 overall pick in last year's draft, wanted to wear No. 55, but it was owned by Pro Bowl center Alex Mack. The topic never came up between the two, as Shelton took on No. 71, the number he sported during his first three seasons at the University of Washington.
"I didn't want to disrespect the man and ask to pay for it off him so I just went with 71 because I used 71 before," Shelton said Tuesday.
With Mack gone to Atlanta in free agency, Shelton didn't let the opportunity pass. He's one of five returning players who swapped numbers heading into this week's voluntary veteran minicamp, which kicks off this afternoon.
Shelton wore the new jersey and flashed a big smile throughout a Tuesday press conference at the Browns' facility in Berea.
"I just felt like I'd be the best guy to represent the number," Shelton said. "I took that opportunity and I'm here today.
"I'm going to focus on playing for the Browns and playing my butt off and I'm also going to focus on representing this number the right way on the field and off the field."
The reasons behind Shelton's adoration for No. 55 are twofold.
Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau, who sported No. 55 for the Chargers throughout his storied NFL career, is one of the game's greats, and his impact was particularly strong on Shelton and the rest of the Polynesian community, he said. It was also the number Shelton's late older brother, Shennon, wore during his football days. Shennon was killed in a 2011 shooting in Auburn, Washington.
"Just having that alone, I feel, strengthens me and gives me the confidence I can represent this number the right way," Shelton said.