He's been traded to a new team ... but Chad Ochocinco DOES NOT want a new jersey number -- and sources close to the NFL star tell TMZ .. he's willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to sport #85 for the New England Patriots this season.
Problem is .... the number currently belongs to Patriots STUD tight end Aaron Hernandez -- who rocked #85 in 2010 ... when he DOMINATED all season long.
We're told Ochocinco -- who CHANGED HIS LAST NAME to match his jersey number a few years ago -- wants to PAY Hernandez to give up the digits ... and sources say Chad feels "no number is too high."
FYI -- jersey numbers don't come cheap -- it cost Clinton Portis a cool $18k to buy the #26 from a teammate when he was traded to the Washington Redskins a few years ago.
[pic - click to view] Chad Ochocinco -- I'll Pay to Keep My #85 | TMZ.com