Most Valuable NFL Trading Cards

Sports have continued to take over national headlines, and in America, the NFL sits atop the professional sports landscape. Fan engagement is one of the major factors driving the NFL’s popularity, which has continued to grow over the years. This has led to heightened interest in sports betting, NFL DFS, trading cards, and more.

The demand rate for NFL cards has been particularly high over the past few years, resulting in a spike in value. So, what are the most expensive NFL cards in 2022?

Currently, this honor belongs to a Patrick Mahomes card, graded 8.5 by BGS, which sold for over $4 million in 2021 (more details in this article). Three 2000 cards featuring Tom Brady round up the list of NFL cards to sell for $1 million or more.

Before we delve into the most valuable cards list, let’s discuss some factors that impact the cost of NFL cards across the country.

Origin of Football Card

While the most ancient football cards may not be as old as some MLB cards, they still date as far back as the 1930s. NFL cards have been kid-favourite collectables since way back, although the craze wasn’t as much as it is today.

These old cards had no protective features like penny sleeves, so many of them easily got damaged. The few that have been able to remain in perfect condition are rare, hence the spike in their value. Older NFL cards in good condition are more expensive than new ones, although this isn’t always the case.

This leads us to the second factor.


This is basic economics. The rarer a football card and the higher the demand, the more expensive they become. With that being said, NFL trading cards can become a rare commodity when new cards get released or vintage cards receive higher grades from renowned grading companies like PSA and CSG.

For old cards, the rarity of a football card largely depends on who still has it and its condition. However, modern-day cards can be impacted by the following factors:

  • Is it parallel?
  • Does it bear an autograph from the player featured on it?
  • Is it numbered?
  • Does it feature a memorable piece like an iconic photo?
  • Is it an NFL rookie card?

For example, the Panini Contender Rookie cards are usually quite expensive because they are numbered and bear an autograph.

Graded or Ungraded

Grading NFL cards became a trend in 2020 during the nationwide lockdown and has continued to grow in popularity. The cost of a football card varies depending on the grade it receives from 3rd-party grading companies. These organizations grade cards based on different factors, such as the card’s surface, state of its corners, and centering.

As you’d expect, ungraded cards sell for less than cards graded, say, 9 or 10. In theory, the higher the grade, the more valuable the card. This is not to say that a graded card will automatically have a high value, but a high grade does give the card the potential to increase in value in the future.

NFL Team or Player Displayed on the Card

Of course, not all teams and players in the NFL have the same following and achievements, and this also affects the cost of trading cards. For example, the Dallas Cowboys have the highest fanbase in the NFL, so a card that features any of their iconic teams or players will typically be more valuable than a card that features a smaller franchise like the Detroit Lions.

And, of course, a Tom Brady card will likely be more expensive than a Baker Mayfield card.

Player’s Draft Position in the NFL Draft

These days, higher NFL draft pick cards are more expensive than lower draft pick cards in most instances, which makes sense as a first overall pick is expected to have a better career than a third round pick. But of course, if you’re familiar with the Tom Brady story, you’ll know this isn’t always the case.

On-Field Position

QB cards are generally more valuable than other offensive positions on the field, like the WR and RB, and it’s no surprise as many view the quarterback as the most important player on the field. Also, defensive player cards are generally less expensive than offensive player cards.

On-pitch Performances, Awards, and Recognitions

Player form, MVP awards, Super Bowl championships, record-breaking performances, and promotions all impact the cost of an NFL card. The price of trading cards of struggling players will likely drop unless the player already has an established level of superstardom. On the flip side, cards featuring in-form players who are getting regular minutes will surge in value.

Now, here are the most valuable NFL cards as of October 2022

  • 2017 Panini National Treasures Platinum Patrick Mahomes 1/1 NFL Shield

Grade: BGS 8.5

Price: $4,300,000

Last sold: July 2021

Seller: PWCC marketplace

  • Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket Autograph BGS
  1. Grade: 9

Price: $3,107,372

Last sold: July 2021

Seller: Lelands

  1. Grade: 8.5

Price: $2,2582,854

Last sold: April 2021

Seller: Lelands

  1. Grade: 8

Price: $1,320,000

Last sold: January 2021

Seller: PWCC Marketplace

  1. Grade: 8 (not the same card as the one above)

Price: $400,100

Last sold: February 2019

Seller: PWCC Marketplace/eBay

  • The iconic 1935 chicle featuring Canadian football player, Bronko Nagurski

Grade: PSA 9

Price: $350,000

Last sold: January 2011

Seller: Memory Lane

  • Jim Brown 1958 Topps PSA 9
  1. Price: $358,500

Last sold: November 2016

Seller: Heritage Auctions

  1. Price: $336,000

Last sold: November 2017

Seller: Heritage Auctions

  • 1965 Topps Joe Namath RC

Grade: PSA 9

Price: $264,000

Last sold: February 2018

Seller: Heritage Auctions

  • 1933 Goudey Sports Kings Jim Thorpe

Grade: PSA 9

Price: $138,000

Last sold: August 2020

Seller: Heritage Auctions

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