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Price Declines within the Modern Sports Card Market

Price Declines within the Modern Sports Card Market
January 18, 2023
Bradley Calleja

Image: Goldin

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On January 8, 2022, Goldin sold a BGS 9 graded 2017 National Treasures Patrick Mahomes RPA for $168,000. At the time, the sale marked a record for a Beckett-graded mint example of the /99 Mahomes rookie, and by April, the price peaked above $180,000.

Fast-forward one year later, and on January 5, 2023, Goldin sold a different BGS 9 Mahomes RPA for $86,400, representing a 48% drop in valuation for the premier patch auto rookie.As the 2023 playoffs kick off and the superstars of the National Football League try to build their legacies, the high-end NFL sports card market is trying to find the floor.Josh Allen and Joe Burrow both struck new personal records in the first half of 2022 but as the year went on, price appreciation slowed. The final sale of the year for Allen's National Treasures RPA closed in six-figure territory at $102,000 after a quick dip below $85,000 at an auction the month prior.

The decline was more modest relative to the Mahomes market, but at market peak, a gem mint Allen RPA reached $162,000, which is a 37% premium to the valuation realized at the last sale. The Burrow market is also burrowing lower, with the last BGS 9.5 sale of 2022 closing at $57,600, less than eight months after one sold for $156,000.  

The market for GOATs has not been immune to the plunging prices. Between April 2021 and February 2022, there were six sales above $1.5 million for BGS 8.5 graded copies of Brady's 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket Rookie Card. In the fourth quarter of 2022, there were four BGS 8.5 sales and all of them closed for less than $900,000. The best sale, which reached $885,000 at Heritage in October, was still 62% below the all-time record for the prized TB12 rookie.Altan's Insight: While the names that realized records in 2021 and early 2022 are now seeing steep declines, the NFL card market is not in complete turmoil.

In Q4, multiple quarterbacks including Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts realized record prices, while Trevor Lawrence and Daniel Jones hit new highs in Q3. One commonality among three of those four QBs: they're still playing heading into the divisional round. Unlike the bloated prospect market found in baseball, there is growing evidence that the NFL card market not only favors winners but requires strong seasons before new price targets can be established. With only eight teams remaining in the postseason, Hurts, Jones, and Lawrence have each delivered breakout campaigns for their respective franchises, and in return, their card buyers have reaped the rewards.

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