2021 Panini Contenders Football Preview

The brand that birthed Tom Brady’s most expensive rookie card 21 years ago makes its annual return just ahead over Super Bowl 56.  2021 Panini Contenders Football will again offer a small stack of autographs and a larger stack of inserts as part of its hobby box configuration.

2021 Panini Contenders Configuration and Base Set

Each Hobby box of 2021 Contenders NFL includes 18 packs with six cards per pack.  As was the case last year, boxes should yield an average of five autographs, one parallel and 18 insert cards. Cases will hold 12 boxes.

With a 100 card checklist, the Contenders “Season Ticket” base set sticks pretty closely to a list of the top names of the NFL.  There will be one parallel per box including:

Playoff Ticket #’d/199
Championship Ticket #’d/99
Cracked Ice Ticket #’d/21
Super Bowl Ticket 1/1


Avid collectors know it’s the Rookie Ticket Autographs that have become the focal point of the Contenders brand.  They’ll be signed on-card.  Image variations of the Rookie Tickets are again in the works, featuring unique photographs and characteristics from the regular Rookie Ticket cards. Parallels include:

Rookie Ticket RPS
Rookie Ticket Stub RPS Max #’d/99
Rookie Playoff Ticket RPS Max #’d/99
Rookie Championship Ticket RPS Max #’d/49
Rookie Cracked Ice Ticket RPS Max #’d/21
Rookie Super Bowl Ticket RPS One-of-One
Rookie Ticket RPS Reverse

Look for Hobby-exclusive Rookie Clear Ticket, SSP Rookie Clear Ticket Mosaic, and the new super short-printed Rookie Ticket RPS Reverse cards. 

Paying homage to the Contenders Rookie Ticket card design from 20 seasons ago are the 2001 Rookie Ticket RPS cards.

Parallels for those will include:

2001 Rookie Ticket RPS Max #’d/21
2001 Rookie Ticket RPS Gold Max #’d/10
2001 Rookie Ticket RPS Platinum #’d 1/1

Other autograph subsets include Contenders to Canton, featuring Hall of Famers who are paired with their first Contenders card for what Panini calls “an iconic walk down memory lane.”

They’ll be numbered to 20 with lower numbered parallels to include: 

Contenders to Canton Autographs Gold Max #’d/10
Contenders to Canton Autographs Platinum One-of-One
Gladiators Silver #’d/99
Gladiators Gold #’d/25
Gladiators Platinum #’d/10

Insert content will also contain some autographed versions including NFL Ink, Legendary Contenders Autographs, MVP Contenders Autographs, Coaches Ticket, Playoff Tickets (SSP) and Sunday Ticket Signatures.


There will be quite a bit of new insert content including Gladiators (“battle tested veterans” according to Panini), Chain Movers, Power Players, Supernatural (quarterbacks), and Playoff Tickets (“highlighting some of the greatest playoff performances and moments in NFL history.”).

Of course, there will be parallels there, too, and while the checklist won’t be finalized for awhile we do know that Supernatural will have Silver (#’d/99); Gold (#’d/25) and Platinum (#’d/10) versions and that Playoff Tickets will have even more, including:

Playoff Tickets Silver #’d/99
Playoff Tickets Gold #’d/25
Playoff Tickets Platinum #’d/10
Playoff Tickets Autographs Max #’d/25
Playoff Tickets Autographs Platinum #’d 1/1

2021 Panini Contenders NFL Football is currently set for release on February 9. The SRP is $225 but in the current market, you can probably expect boxes to drop at a significantly higher price.

About Rich Mueller

Rich is the editor and founder of Sports Collectors Daily. A broadcaster and writer for over 35 years and a collector for even longer than that, he’s usually typing something somewhere. Type him back at [email protected]

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