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Ranking the alternate uniforms of every NFL team: Rams, Ravens top impressive collection of third jerseys

Ranking the alternate uniforms of every NFL team: Rams, Ravens top impressive collection of third jerseys

Alternate uniforms — or third jerseys — have become popular around the NFL since the league instituted them in 2002. The NFL was the last of the major professional sports leagues in America to institute a third jersey, but the alternates have taken off since (whether the jersey is a true alternate or the ever-popular throwback).

Since the 2018 season, NFL teams have been allowed to wear an alternate jersey up to three times a year and may wear up to two alternate jerseys per season. This allows teams to carry two alternate jerseys — or an alternate and a throwback. Some teams decided to keep the NFL’s “Color Rush” alternate from 2016 (which was discontinued in 2018), giving these franchises two alternate jerseys to wear each year. 

Which teams have the best alternate jerseys in the NFL? This is always a fun debate, but these rankings will be based upon how they look on the field and how the jerseys go with the pants combination the team chooses. Some teams do choose different pants combinations with their alternate jerseys, like the Baltimore Ravens, who use their white pants with their black alternates along with their black pants. Alternate helmets won’t debut until next season, so these rankings judge past combinations. (They can improve based on the helmets each team uses going forward in 2022.) 

These rankings will not include throwback jerseys, which will be classified in a separate category for a later article. These teams were excluded because they don’t have an alternate jersey — just a throwback they use as a third uniform. 

These teams have one alternate uniform and one throwback, so their alternate uniform qualifies for the list:

Only one team has never wore an alternate uniform:

These rankings of the current alternate uniforms in the NFL are certainly debatable, especially the one that claimed the top spot. 

The Titans’ Powder Blue uniform with navy blue pants.
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Maybe it’s the Titans’ uniform design in general, but these baby blue alternates don’t look as nice as Tennessee’s original baby blue alternates worn from 2003 to 2017 (and eventually made their home uniform). 

The silver on the sleeves doesn’t mesh with the powder blue and the navy blue helmet. Adding powder blue pants make these uniforms cleaner, but Tennessee would be better off changing the uniform design or getting a throwback as an alternate instead of this one. 

27. Houston Texans — Blue ‘Color Rush’ Alternate

The Texans’ ‘Color Rush’ jerseys
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These “Color Rush” uniforms are unnecessary with the “Battle Red” alternates also in the rotation, ruining a home jersey that is one of the best in the NFL. The red numbers are unnecessary with this look, a uniform Houston keeps in the rotation. 

This uniform set only goes well with the blue pants, but the Texans don’t have a throwback design to use — so this will have to do. One set of alternates works well for the Texans.

26. Seattle Seahawks — Green ‘Color Rush’ Alternate

The Seahawks’ Green ‘Color Rush’ jerseys with green pants. 
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The green jerseys in Seattle have never been a sight for sore eyes, but the updated design is much better than the initial version that was only worn once in 2009. The green pants with the green jersey is a much cleaner look, although the Seahawks are better off in the navy blue threads. These debuted as part of the NFL’s “Color Rush” promotion in 2016 and the Seahawks kept them around. 

The Seahawks do wear these jerseys with blue pants on occasion, but these are sharper in the green pants. 

The Chargers’ Navy Blue ‘Color Rush’ uniforms
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The Chargers hit the ball out of the park with their new uniforms that debuted in 2020, but even the cleanest look in the NFL has an alternate that leaves much to be desired. The navy blue alternates aren’t a bad look, but they are too reminiscent of the “Color Rush” uniforms that were around the league from 2016 to 2018. 

These uniforms pay homage to the franchise’s days in San Diego, when navy blue was the home uniform for a number of years. With powder blue and royal blue in the rotation, these uniforms are fine as a one-off (which the Chargers have done the last two years). 

24. Arizona Cardinals — Black ‘Color Rush’ Alternate

The Cardinals’ ‘Color Rush’ jerseys 
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The Cardinals have solid alternate uniforms, but the “Color Rush” uniform downgraded the original black alternate design. The difference in these jerseys are that the panels on the arms are red instead of white, with different color numbers (red) and black pants (instead of white). 

This may be the final year of this alternate uniform, as the Cardinals are rumored to get new uniforms as soon as the 2023 season. 

23. Pittsburgh Steelers — Black ‘Color Rush’ Alternate

The Steelers’ ‘Color Rush’ uniform
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The Steelers have crushed the throwback uniforms over the years, but their first alternate uniform design could have been a lot better. Pittsburgh always wears black at home, so there wasn’t much to alter when the “Color Rush” jerseys debuted in 2016. 

These uniforms have gold block numbers that are a throwback to the uniforms the team wore from 1946 to 1965, but the gold stripes and black pants take a lot of the luster from this design. They also looked similar to the 49ers and Browns “color rush” uniforms when they debuted (number template), which also didn’t help in the uniqueness of them.

22. Cleveland Browns — Brown ‘Color Rush’ Alternate

The Browns ‘Color Rush’ alternate uniform
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The Browns initial “Color Rush” uniforms weren’t great, but significantly improved when the team altered the uniform in 2020. This design is even more popular with the lack of stripes on the sleeves and pants, presenting a much cleaner look.

Cleveland’s home and away jerseys are clean, too, which makes wearing the alternates hard to wear more than once a year. 

21. Baltimore Ravens — Purple ‘Color Rush’ Alternate

Baltimore’s ‘Color Rush’ uniforms
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The “Color Rush” jerseys just don’t age well, even for a franchise that has excellent uniforms like the Ravens. These alternates are easily the worst of Baltimore’s wardrobe, as white numbers just look better on these uniforms than gold. 

Baltimore is 4-1 all-time in the “Color Rush” jerseys, and they actually are one of the better looking “Color Rush” designs out there. The Ravens have so many good uniform combinations to make these unnecessary.

20. Atlanta Falcons — Red ‘Rise Up’ Alternate

The Falcons’ ‘Rise Up’ uniforms
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These uniforms looked hideous when the Falcons debuted them back in 2020, but the Falcons’ alternate uniforms actually look decent on the field. This is certainly a different style than any other alternate uniform, which is designed to represent a reflection of the city of Atlanta’s progression using the gradient pattern rising from black to red.

There’s symbolism behind the uniform, but it also only works with the black pants. Overall, this look is solid on the field.

19. Detroit Lions — Grey ‘Color Rush’ uniforms

The Lions’ Gray alternate uniforms
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The Lions originally had black “Color Rush” uniforms they never wore, so they debuted a new set of grey uniforms that look solid on the field. The all-grey uniforms don’t mesh well with the silver helmet, but it’s a unique look for the Lions — and much better than the black alternate jerseys they’ve tried in the past. 

This may be the final season of the grey alternates, as the Lions are considering new uniforms for 2023. 

The Jets donning their alternate uniforms.
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The Jets added black to the green and white color scheme, uniforms that should probably only be worn for prime-time games. The design isn’t bad, yet the home and away jerseys in the “Gotham Green” are a much better look for New York.

Bottom line, the Jets have a traditional uniform that should never have been altered. The Jets don’t need an alternate uniform either, even if the look isn’t bad. These aren’t near the worst alternate uniforms in the NFL.

Tampa Bay’s Pewter uniforms 
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The Buccaneers never donned a pewter jersey before the 2020 season, yet these uniforms find a way to work on the field. The red outlining on the uniforms meshes well with the pewter, a fresh take on a classic uniform that debuted in the 1990s. 

Tampa Bay only wears them once a year, which is enough for a unique look. The pewter pants were worn 13 times in the 2021 season, and go very well with the pewter jersey. 

The Commanders’ Black alternate uniforms
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These uniforms have never been worn on the field (the Commanders debuted their new uniforms in February), but there’s a case to be made the alternate uniform is the best one of the new Washington threads. The franchise has never worn a black uniform in its history, yet this uniform combination is better than the burgundy set. 

The D.C. flag patch on the sleeve is an amazing touch, as well as the numbers on the black helmet. Since Washington was the first team to debut the alternate helmet, the all-black jersey and pants combination with gold numbers work. 

15. Chicago Bears — Orange Alternate

The Bears’ alternate jerseys have aged well.
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The Bears should wear these uniforms more, as the orange jersey has aged well since it debuted in 2005. The orange jerseys were actually a throwback donned in 2004 that Chicago modernized in 2005 and has used ever since. 

These isn’t much the Bears need to do with these jerseys. They go very well with the white pants and are a fresh look from their traditional home jersey. 

14. Arizona Cardinals — Black Alternate

The Cardinals debuted these black alternate uniforms in 2010.
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The Cardinals didn’t need a “Color Rush” alternate when they have these black threads, which may be in their last year of existence, with the team rumored to be changing uniforms after the 2022 season. 

These uniforms debuted in 2010, and are a solid look with the white numbers. Arizona can wear these uniforms with black or white pants, giving a fresh look when the Cardinals do wear them. The Cardinals uniforms — in general — may be outdated, yet these black alternates work.

13. Buffalo Bills — Red ‘Color Rush’ Alternate

The Bills wear their red jerseys once a year.
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These “Color Rush” jerseys are one of the best, as the Bills debuted them in the NFL’s first “Color Rush” game in 2015. The red uniforms aged over time, and the Bills took them to new heights by wearing them on a Sunday (the first “Color Rush” jersey to be worn on that day). 

Buffalo usually wears them late in the season — and typically once a year. They don’t need to be worn more than that, but it’s a different look for a franchise that has donned blue at home throughout its history. 

12. Seattle Seahawks — Wolf Gray Alternate

The Seahawks’ Wolf Gray alternates are usually worn on the road.
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These Seahawks alternates are significantly better than the green ones, and they are typically worn on the road. These uniforms may be the best of all the Seahawks jerseys, a modern classic that Nike ended up getting right when they altered a few franchises’ uniforms in 2012. 

It doesn’t hurt that the Seahawks typically win in wolf grey. These uniforms should be worn more.

The Jaguars’ Black uniforms are a clean look.
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These uniforms are arguably the best ones the Jaguars have — and they aren’t even their home jerseys! Black used the be the primary home jersey in Jacksonville for a bit in the 2010s before the Jaguars switched back to teal. Jacksonville switching to black as an alternate for key games was a wise move, especially since there’s a nice blend of teal to go with it.

What makes these uniforms even better are the black helmets that go with the jersey and pants. 

10. Los Angeles Chargers — Royal Blue ‘Color Rush’ Alternate

The Chargers’ Royal Blue ‘Color Rush’ uniforms
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There’s definitely a case to be made that these uniforms should be higher up the list, as the Chargers alternate threads are becoming one of the nicest in the league. These are significantly better than the navy blue uniforms, as the royal blue is a modern touch to a classic look (and the royal blue numbers on the helmet look even better).

The royal blue numbers and a royal blue outline on the gold bolt is a simple look that works. Powder blue defines the Chargers, but they can pull this off very well. 

9. Minnesota Vikings — Purple ‘Color Rush’ Alternate

The Vikings’ ‘Color Rush’ uniforms
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These are one of the best “Color Rush” jerseys, as the Vikings kept it simple by using the purple jerseys and purple pants. The only change was the gold stripes and numbers. 

Minnesota rejected yellow and black alternate uniforms in the past and chose this design when “Color Rush” debuted for every team in 2016. This works.

8. Houston Texans — ‘Battle Red’ Alternate

The Texans wear their ‘Battle Red’ uniforms once a year.
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The “Battle Red” alternates are easily the best of the Texans’ alternate jerseys, a look that has aged gracefully since it made its debut in 2005. These uniforms have been worn with red pants, blue pants, and white pants and have worked well with each. 

“Battle Red’ is worn once a year and “Battle Red Day” is an annual tradition for the Texans. The red pants have been gone for a decade, actually making this uniform combination even better. 

The Broncos’ alternate jerseys have aged well.
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Debuted in 1997 as part of a major uniform redesign, the Broncos won their first Super Bowl title in the navy blues — their home uniform at the time. These uniforms have aged well since becoming an alternate in 2012, as they can be worn with white and blue pants. 

At some point, these uniforms will be a classic throwback. For now, they’re a nice alternate. 

The Bengals’ Orange alternates have only been around for a year.
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These uniforms have only been in existence for one year and are already one of the nicest in the NFL. This set has black stripes on the shoulders and white numbers with black outline, a simple design for one of the cleanest uniforms in the NFL. 

These orange tops are great with white or black pants and could become one of the best alternates in the league. NFL fans need to see these on the field more. 

The Eagles’ Black uniforms have been around nearly 20 years.
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The Eagles debuted their first alternate uniform in 2003 and haven’t changed it since, demonstrating how well these uniforms have been used over the years. Philadelphia typically wears the black uniforms for prime-time contests with a set of black pants (that debuted in 2014), and the team will debut an alternate black helmet to go with the set this year.

White pants also go very well with this top, and the Eagles would be wise to bring them back in the rotation.

4. Denver Broncos — Color Rush Orange Throwback 

The Broncos’ ‘Color Rush’ alternate throwbacks
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These count as alternate uniforms because they aren’t truly throwbacks, even though they have a similar design to the jerseys the Broncos wore from 1968 to 1996. The orange jerseys are excellent and work well with the orange pants that debuted in 2016. The Broncos even used a throwback helmet decal to go with the uniforms. 

The elimination of the “one-shell rule” allows the Broncos to ditch the navy blue helmets in favor of royal blue, making these a true throwback. For now, these are one of the best alternate uniforms in the NFL. 

The Panthers’ Baby Blue alternates
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The Panthers still have one of the top alternate uniforms, as the baby blue threads rival the black jerseys for the best uniform in the Carolina rotation. Carolina debuted these jerseys in 2002 and have added blue pants to the mix with the silver ones. They even work with the black pants Carolina wears with each of its uniforms. 

This is a look the Panthers shouldn’t change.

2. Baltimore Ravens — Black Alternate

The Ravens have one of the top alternate uniforms.
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The Ravens perfected their first alternate uniforms with the black jerseys in 2004, threads they wear for prime-time contests. Already donning a black helmet, Baltimore didn’t need to accomplish much to perfect this uniform — yet it did with a purple collar, numbers outlined in gold, and purple sleeve bases.

Baltimore debuted black pants and wore black socks with the jersey, a true black alternate that can’t be topped in the NFL. These jerseys are great for prime-time games. 

The Rams’ alternate uniforms are the best in the NFL.
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One year in existence and these alternate jerseys are already the best in the NFL. A modern design on the Rams’ classic throwback uniforms, the Rams celebrate the uniform worn by the franchise’s greatest players in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

A white jersey with blue numbers and blue ram horns on the yellow capped sleeves, the Rams modernized it with the number font and the Rams logo on the back — along with the team moniker on the front. The yellow pants make the uniform even better. 

Los Angeles wore these jerseys in its Super Bowl LVI victory.  Expect the Rams to wear these uniforms as many times as possible — as they did in the 2021 season. 

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