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The QB Market: Tom Brady still rules but young stars gaining ground among collectors

Tom Brady is the GOAT on the field and a hobby hero on football cards, but young QBs Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert are attracting the attention of card collectors.
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Hard to believe it’s been two decades since Tom Brady burst onto the international sports scene. It was February 2002 when he calmly led New England on a memorable drive that resulted in a last-minute Super Bowl win.

In the process, he became the youngest QB to win a Super Bowl. As we’ve witnessed over the past 20 years, he was just getting started.

By adding six additional Super Bowl rings to his collection, he has secured his place as a hobby hero. Our most recent Top 10 chart reflects Brady’s ever-soaring popularity: He takes up the top two spots.

The item at No. 1 is no surprise: a 2002 Playoff Contenders autographed Brady Rookie Ticket card. At No. 2 is one we don’t see quite as often in our Top 10: a 2002 Topps Finest Xfractor marked #16 of 20. It appeared in an eBay auction in December and sold for $75,000 on 54 bids.

2002 Topps Finest Tom Brady Xfractor.

2002 Topps Finest Tom Brady Xfractor.

Also See: Brady NFL debut ticket offered by Collectable 

Just outside our Top 10 were two more Brady cards. One was a 2000 Upper Deck SPx that exceeded $40,000. The other was a 2000 UD Gold Reserve that brought $32,100. The reverse side gives us a gem of a prognostication: “Brady was very productive his final two seasons at Michigan, guiding his team to consecutive bowl victories. His accuracy should make him a top backup.”

BENGAL BOMBER BURROW

After having his promising rookie year cut short by an injury, Joe Burrow picked up in this sophomore campaign where he left off last season. He led the surprising Bengals to an AFC North title, throwing for 34 TDs and nearly 5,000 yards during the regular season. He was particularly impressive in the three-game stretch that pushed Cincinnati to the top, throwing 11 TDs (with no interceptions) in that span.

Now he's led the underdog Bengals to the Super Bowl, throwing for 842 yards and four touchdowns in three straight playoff victories. 

Collectors have remained bullish on Burrow. The item of choice is his 2020 Panini National Treasures autographed patch card. 

2020 National Treasures Joe Burrow rookie card.

2020 National Treasures Joe Burrow rookie card.

In December, an example graded BGS 9.5 and stamped #23 of 99 sold for $30,100 on 39 bids. A slightly lesser-grade example, a BGS 9 marked #31 of 99, brought $24,900. An ungraded example drew $20,100 on 25 bids.

What if that card shows up in Mint condition? Well, we reported on just such an animal earlier in this NFL season: Graded PSA 10, it fetched $46,255.

Also See: Card shops, distributors concerned about Topps sale Fanatics 

HERBERT IN A HURRY

Keeping pace with Burrow is his fellow sophomore-class quarterback, Justin Herbert. The Chargers’ gunslinger has soared quickly to the upper echelon of NFL QBs. As a rookie last season, he tossed 31 touchdowns with 4,336 passing yards. This year, he exceeded both totals with 38 touchdowns and 5,014 yards. 

Not surprisingly, he blitzed our Top 10 list and snagged the 8th, 9th and 10th slots, thanks to signed Panini jersey cards that each brought more than $45,000.

2020 National Treasures Justin Herbert rookie card.

2020 National Treasures Justin Herbert rookie card.

Two more Herbert cards show up in our “next 10” list, selling for prices of $41,100 and $32,600.

As healthy as those figures look, they’re actually lighter than prices we reported two months prior. In November, a PSA 10-graded Contenders Cracked Ice Herbert insert (one of only 22 made) fetched $75,100 on 120 bids. Two other National Treasures patch cards from an edition of 99 sold for prices of $70,200 and $66,200. It reaffirms the notion that sometimes hobby trends don’t make sense.

IS A-RODG GETTING THE COLD SHOULDER?

Considering the prices of the high-end Brady, Burrow and Herbert cards noted above, Aaron Rodgers cards are absolute steals. It’s understandable that Brady draws higher prices — he’s been around five years longer than Rodgers and has all those Super Bowl rings. But the Packer QB has had a remarkably productive career, winning one MVP (and expected to snag a second for the 2021 campaign) and a Super Bowl while breaking the Green Bay touchdown-pass record formerly held by Brett Favre.

He enters the playoffs with a chance to add to those accolades for the 13-4 Packers, the No. 1 seed in the NFC. 

Consider the (relative) Rodgers bargains secured by eBay bidders in recent weeks:

• $18,702 on 25 bids for a 2005 Topps Chrome signed Gold Xfractor card graded PSA 10 and marked #68 of 399.

• $13,433 on 41 bids for an ungraded 2005 Upper Deck Exquisite signed Super Jersey card marked #12 of 15.

• $12,800 on 59 bids for a 2005 Topps Turkey Red graded PSA 10. This one is a “no frills” issue: no autograph, no patch — just a cool design based on classic Turkey Red tobacco cards.

• $9,356 on 57 bids for an ungraded 2020 Flawless autographed jersey card. The patch in this 1-of-1 card features the NFL shield.

• $8,000 on 54 bids for a 2005 Playoff Contenders signed Rookie Ticket card graded PSA 9.

2005 Playoff Contenders Aaron Rodgers rookie auto card.

2005 Playoff Contenders Aaron Rodgers rookie auto card.

• $7,100 on 43 bids for a 2005 Topps Chrome Refractor graded BGS 9.5.

BARGAIN LEGENDS

Current QBs — those mentioned above, plus Patrick Mahomes II and Josh Allen — are magnets for collector dollars. Legendary QBs of the past, however, seem to be falling into “afterthought” mode. Consider:

• A Sammy Baugh 1948 Bowman card recently auctioned for just $4,151 on 40 bids, despite having a Near-Mint PSA 8 grade.

1948 Bowman Sammy Baugh card.

1948 Bowman Sammy Baugh card.

• A Bart Starr 1957 Topps rookie graded PSA 7 sold for $3,333 on 32 bids.

• A John Unitas PSA 7-grade rookie, also from Topps’ 1957 set, got away for $3,112 on 41 bids. Another PSA 7 Unitas rookie was even less pricey at $2,837 on 224 bids.

• An Otto Graham rookie, from Bowman’s 1950 set, went to a collector for $2,126 on 41 bids. It was graded SGC 7.

• A Joe Montana 1982 Topps rookie in PSA 9 condition sold for $2,175 on 43 bids in early January 2022.

1981 Topps Joe Montana card.

1981 Topps Joe Montana card.

The moral is: If you collect quarterback legends, you can find undervalued gems on eBay, even in this hobby boom era.

Here's a look at our latest Top 10 Chart for online auctions: 

1. $95,101 on 95 bids: 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Rookie Ticket, auto (BGS 9, 10 auto)

2. $75,000 on 54 bids: 2002 Topps Finest Tom Brady Xfractor, #16/20 (BGS 9.5)

3. $70,100 on 98 bids: 2018-19 Panini Prizm Luka Doncic Blue Ice, #25/99 (PSA 10)

4. $63,432 on 68 bids: 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente (PSA 8)

5. $52,625 on 58 bids: 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle (PSA 3)

T6. $49,800 on 111 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (BGS 9.5)

T6. $49,800 on 53 bids: 2003-04 Topps Chrome LeBron James Xfractor, #201/220 (PSA 8.5)

T8. $45,100 on 52 bids: 2020 Panini National Treasures Justin Herbert, #92/99, auto patch (BGS 9)

T8. $45,100 on 67 bids: 2020 Panini Contenders Justin Herbert Cracked Ice, #16/22, auto (PSA 10)

10. $45,000 on 47 bids: 2020 Panini National Treasures Justin Herbert, #18/99, auto patch (BGS 9)

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