2021 has been a year of record-setting football rookie card sales. Out of the top 10 most expensive sports cards ever sold, football now claims 2 spots on that list. Football is traditionally viewed as a smaller market in the hobby, but that’s starting to change.
Below is a list of the top 25 most valuable rookie cards that includes data from the most recent record sales.
Disclaimer: The football card market is moving fast, so I’ve opted to use predicted price values to develop this list of most valuable rookie cards. There are some cards on this list that haven’t sold in 1+ years due to their rarity, but the lower graded copies of these cards have gone up in value, thus it is anticipated that higher grade copies would have increased as well. The projected values come from Cardladder, which has a detailed white paper on how they derive predicted market value here. Cardladder has developed indexes for particular players to evaluate their market as a whole to help us better understand what certain cards would fetch in the market today. Keep in mind, predictive analysis isn’t 100% accurate, but can still act as guiding data for today’s current market.
The Tom Brady Playoff Contenders championship ticket card is limited to just 100 copies making it the most desirable Brady rookie card in existence. In its lowest graded copy, the card still commands a price tag of more than $1 million.
There are just 7 copies of this card in a BGS 9 (the highest grade received for this card) and is projected to be worth $4.64 million according to Cardladder.com.
BGS 9 $3.1 million
BGS 8.5 $2.25 million
BGS 7.5 $510,000
This 1/1 Shield Patch autograph Patrick Mahomes is currently the world record holder for the highest sale of any football card of all time with its recent $4.3 million sale.
Given how the football market has been moving in 2021, this card is still number 2 on this list because it’s believed (with recent sale data0 that if another Brady Championship Contenders Autograph BGS 9 went up for auction, it would fetch an even higher price.
Both quarterbacks dominate this list of most valuable rookie cards and it’s no surprise as Mahomes has been called the face of the NFL and Brady has more Super Bowl victories than any other NFL franchise.
Recent Sales: BGS 8.5 $4.3 million
Brady’s 2000 Playoff Contenders rookie ticket isn’t as rare as it’s Championship parallel, but it still commands serious value.
The lowest entry point for this card are the PSA 6 graded copies (pop 16) which is currently valued at $30,958.
The PSA 10 version of this card sold for $2.25 million dollars at an auction this past April, and sold for a new record high on 8/22:
The Tom Brady Bowman Chrome refractor rookie is Brady’s second most desirable rookie card. There are just 7 copies graded a PSA 10 with a projected current value of $1.68 million.
The lowest graded copy of the card is a population 12 PSA 7 and is still valued at $69,834.
BGS 9 $70,100
BGS 8.5 $28,118
BGS 8 $32,322
This 1958 Topps Jim Brown is the first vintage card on this list of most valuable rookies. There are no copies graded a PSA 10 and with just 5 copies in a PSA 9, the card is valued at $1.34 million.
There are 117 copies of this card in a PSA 1 grade that have recently sold for $600.
PSA 5 $3,050
PSA 4 $1,998.50
PSA 6 $5,800
This National Treasures rookie patch auto card is a parallel numbered to just 5 copies and sold at GoldinAuctions for $840,000 in January, up significantly from its previous sale of $236,160 in October of 2020.
Modern NFL players have a more diverse set of rookie card offerings, which is why Mahomes’ rookie cards show up often on this list. He has multiple rookie patch auto cards across various sets, each with different parallels that have different rarity that significantly impact their market value.
BGS 9 $840,000
This Patrick Mahomes rookie is yet another parallel of his National Treasures rookie patch autograph card with just 13 copies in existence. This copy sold at GoldinAuctions for $584,250.
Each parallel features different numbering and different design aspects, as well as varying degrees of quality inserted patches. In this case, we have a 4-color patch with a unique design that resembles the American flag.
BGS 9.5 $584,250
The 1/1 Black Finite Prizm is Mahomes’ rarest parallel in the Prizm set. There isn’t a single other copy of this card in existence, making it significantly more rare than the Gold and Gold Vinyl parallels in the set. It also helps that the card is considered to be in good condition as it graded a BGS 9.5.
This card sold for $76,204 in February of 2020 via PWCC, but has not sold since then.
Justin Herbert broke records during his rookie season and although he is just entering his second year in the NFL, his one of one Shield Patch Autograph National Treasures rookie card is currently valued at $547,328.
His National Treasures Rookie Patch Auto card numbered to 99 is currently valued at $13,888 ungraded, placing a significant premium for the 1/1 parallel of this card.
Recent Sales (Rookie Patch Auto /99):
BGS 9.5 Listed for $99,999, Best Offer accepted
BGS 8.5 $11,100
There currently aren’t any PSA 10 graded copies of Joe Namath’s 1965 Topps rookie cards and there are just 5 PSA 9 copies in existence. The projected value for the PSA 9 grade is $257,211, which make sense given the rarity of the card in a high-grade condition.
There are 69 copies of the card in a PSA 1 grade, which are currently valued at $2,287.
PSA 6.5 $6,200
PSA 5.5 $4,850
PSA 5 $5,690
The Patrick Mahomes II rookie patch autograph (RPA) card numbered to 99 copies is considered the “true” RPA of the set. It isn’t as rare as the other copies that made this list of most valuable rookie cards, but it is still valued at $343,657.
There is currently a PSA 9 copy of this card live on Goldin Auctions with a current bid of $71,000.
PSA 10 $390,000
BGS 9.5 $290,400
PSA 9 – live auction
Goldin Auctions sold this Patrick Mahomes II Flawless Shield Patch auto for $312,000 in a BGS 7.5 grade. As mentioned previously, modern players have a more diverse set of rookie cards across multiple sets. This shield patch auto comes from Panini’s Flawless set, which isn’t viewed with the same degree of desirability as the National Treasures set.
BGS 7.5 $312,000
Goldin Auctions sold this /25 Patrick Mahomes II National Treasures rookie patch autograph parallel for $289,200. With rookie patch autograph parallels, numbering isn’t the only aspect of the card that matters for value. In this case, we have a fairly basic 3-color patch with a refracting border.
In some cases, a higher numbered card with a more visually appealing patch will command more value from the market.
BGS 9.5 $289,200
Source: Heritage Auctions
In 2017, Heritage Auctions sold this pop 3 PSA 9 Bart Starr rookie for $288,000. The football card market has grown since then, so it’s likely if this card hit the market today it would be worth even more. Lower graded copies of this card can be bought for around $400.
PSA 7 $3,245
PSA 6 $1,615
PSA 3 $877.50
The 2017 Patrick Mahomes Gold Vinyl Prizm card is numbered to just 5 copies, which is 50% of the supply of his Gold Prizm /10. The card hasn’t been sold recently, but there is one copy available on eBay for $900,000.
The current projected value of the card is $244,650, but likely would fetch more on the open market given the latest Gold Prizm sale.
No Recent Sales
The pop 13 BGS 10 graded Tom Brady 2000 SP Authentic is currently valued at $240,000. The total print run of this card is limited to 1,250 copies, and even a PSA 8 (pop 130) is valued at $30,712.
In January of 2004, a PSA 8 graded copy of this card sold for $202.
Given that sale from 2004 compared to today’s values, the football market has grown significantly over the years. And while Brady has a number of different rookie cards available for sale, there aren’t many graded in a high condition, as he was a 6th round draft pick and it’s likely his cards were more of an after-thought after they were opened from packs.
PSA 10 $86,178
BGS 9.5 $56,877
BGS 9 $30,099
The Tom Brady 200 Fleer Showcase is limited to 2,000 copies and has just 1 graded PSA 10, which is currently valued at $195,926. Lower graded versions of the card are more affordable with an entry point of $4,091 for a pop 38 PSA 6 copy of the card.
BGS 9 $9,288
BGS 8 $3,875
BGS 7.5 $3,099
This Patrick Mahomes II Gold Prizm Autograph card has just 5 copies in a BGS 9.5 grade and is currently valued at $124,615. A copy of the card last sold on September 24th, 2020 for $55,100.
It seems that we have a new record sale for a Patrick Mahomes rookie card every other week, but the reality is that when a specific low population card comes up for sale, it’s likely the last we’ll see of it for a while and this card is a perfect example.
Despite the eye-popping value this card would bring in, we haven’t seen any copies surface for sale.
There have been no recent sales of this card.
There are 10 copies of the 1986 Topps Steve Young graded a PSA 10. Those copies are valued at $100,747. The 1986 Topps set was highly printed, meaning there is a large supply of lower graded cards that can be bought for as little as $6, a stark difference in the six-figure price tag on the PSA 10 copy of this card.
Condition and rarity can drive significant value for a card and Young’s 1986 Topps Rookie is a great example of just how much of a premium that can bring in.
PSA 9 $1,237
PSA 6 $6
PSA 5 $7
The Patrick Mahomes II rookie ticket autograph has 38 copies graded as a PSA 10 and is valued at $91,029. Lower graded copies of the card can be found starting at $9,600.
It wouldn’t be fair to compare Mahomes’ rookie ticket values to Brady’s, because Brady came into the NFL at a time where rookie patch autographs did not exist.
There are plenty of other premium Patrick Mahomes rookie cards for collectors to choose from compared to Brady, which puts less of an emphasis on the desirability of Mahomes’ rookie ticket autos.
PSA 9 $29,976
PSA 5 $9,600
The 1986 Topps Jerry Rice rookie has just 60 copies graded a PSA 10. Because of this relative rarity, those cards with a PSA 10 grade command a significantly higher price point than lower graded copies. The PSA 9 grade, for example, has a population of 1,029 and the PSA 8 has 12,222 graded copies.
PSA 10 $74,600
PSA 9 $3,925
PSA 8 $401