Hobby Musings: 2020 football season comes with intriguing card storylines – It’s hard to believe, but the 2020 NFL season kicks off this week, bringing with it plenty of anticipation for card collectors. With a dynamic rookie class and big names like Tom Brady in new places, this could be a football card year unlike any we’ve seen.

To find out more about what this means for Panini, I had the chance to catch up with Director of Football Product Development Rob Springs via email.

KS: Rob, the 2020 football season is upon us. You’ve already released some cards featuring Tom Brady in a Bucs uniform. What kind of market reaction have you seen with those, and how do you think his new team will affect his hobby status in a market that is already hot?

RS: It’s been absolutely crazy. When you get a really high profile free agent, there is usually some chase to his new cards (especially if it’s a good market), but it’s been a total shock for me. And, no offense to Tampa Bay collectors, but that hasn’t exactly been the hotbed of collecting in the past. So, this has been really fun to watch.

KS: Brady isn’t the only person in a new place as Philip Rivers, DeAndre Hopkins and Terry Bridgewater, among others, also found new teams. Aside from Brady, which player on a new team do you think could make the biggest hobby splash this year?

RS: This year, outside of Brady, most of the players in new places aren’t huge hobby names currently – however, Cam Newton is probably the player that can have the biggest rebound both on the field and in the hobby of the group. Keep an eye on (Rob) Gronkowski and Hopkins though, as well.

KS: The coronavirus pandemic has made the job of producing football cards more challenging. With that in mind, will we see jersey and hard-signed cards of players in their new duds this calendar year?

RS: Yes, outside of our first few releases where we had to do some collegiate photography and sticker autos where we normally wouldn’t, we are on track to have “regular” type of releases. Sets releasing before the end of the year like Origins, Impeccable, Immaculate, Donruss Optic, Contenders, etc. will all still have NFL photography, memorabilia and on-card autos.

KS: Who’s a veteran player you could see making a big leap in trading card popularity this year?

RS: With so much speculation going on right now, it really is going to be a lot of different guys if they come out of the gate hot. The trend has been to jump on the younger players; so guys like Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray, Deshaun Watson, Drew Lock, Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey – all those type of players can explode the same way the Patrick Mahomes II and Lamar Jackson have over the past 12 to 18 months.

KS: Looking at the rookies, we know the big names like Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. Who’s one rookie hobbyists aren’t really talking about now though that you think they will be by the end of the season?

RS: I really think Jerry Jeudy is going to have a huge season in Denver – but he is not necessarily a stretch for me to point out. I think Bryan Edwards will have a better year than Henry Ruggs, and I think J.K. Dobbins will be leading that Ravens rushing attack by mid-year.

KS: Who’s a rookie who has surprised with the demand for his cards so far?

RS: I’m not sure any particular rookie has been a surprise – maybe Chase Young with how high he has sold for a defensive player. But I think the biggest surprise is how high rookies are selling across the board. It’s a good sign for the future of football cards.

KS: As I alluded to, the hobby is currently going through a bit of a boom period, and football seems to be picking up steam with the season starting. How has the anticipation for the 2020 season and its card lines compared with other years you’ve worked on?

RS: It’s been amazing. It’s a rare combination of anticipation and speculation along with an incredible draft class. Products have been selling strong at all levels – cases, boxes and singles.

KS: What are some of the highlights collectors can look forward to with upcoming football products?

RS: We have a few things up our sleeves over the next few months. I think collectors will really love the Cleat Impressions cards from Immaculate, which are very similar to the popular Noir Sneaker Spotlight Autos in basketball, the Color Blast Black cards in Obsidian look amazing and Mosaic Football, which releases on Friday, is a beautiful product and is going to do well. Also, our two direct programs releases in 2020 with Zenith in early October and Honors in late December.

Hobby Musings: 2020 football season comes with intriguing card storylines

Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Hobby Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.

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