The shirt, synonymous with star striker Alana Shearer, was vacated when Andy Carroll left St James' Park in January and Pardew says he will not rush into making a decision on who wears it next season.
"The number nine shirt is equally important. I will leave the number nine as late as I can," he told the club's official website.
"I know just what that shirt means to this football club, but there will be a few contenders who could wear that shirt and do it justice.
"It is an important shirt and I might think of giving it to a player who doesn't get weighed down by it. I will have to assess the characters of the players to make sure that doesn't happen."