2022-23 Panini Contenders Optic Basketball splashes Optichrome on the Contenders NBA line for the fifth season. Hobby boxes avearage one autograph.
The Playoff Contenders brand recently celebrated it’s 20th Anniversary with the release of 2012 Panini Contenders Football. Dating its origins back to 1993, the Contenders set consisted of 150 total cards, including rookies of recent Hall of Fame inductees Jerome Bettis and Willie Roaf. A premium product designed to showcase key rookies, the brand was a welcome edition to the football card market.
Creating an Identity
In 1998, Contenders introduced an insert and design concept that would forever change the landscape of rookie autographed trading cards. The Contenders Rookie Ticket Autographs were a beautiful creation that incorporated design elements of a game ticket with the autograph of key rookies. Through the years, these cards have been some of the most coveted in the entire hobby. This gallery, will show you in clear detail, why collectors have been so fond of this set.
Through the Years
Since it’s inception the Contenders brand has been utilized in other sports as well, most notably basketball. The Rookie Ticket Autographs transitioned well to that product category and the brand’s most recent release in basketball showed strong demand on the secondary market. In 2011, with Panini’s return to baseball thanks to their newly acquired MLBPA license, the Contenders brand was expanded to baseball. Lacking logos and official uniforms the product was received to mixed reviews.
Contenders Card Sets
Browse our database of Contenders trading card sets, which feature product reviews, set checklists, expert analysis, price comparisons, and more.
Led by the Rookie Ticket line, 2022-23 Panini Contenders Basketball highlights NBA stars and averages two autographs per Hobby box.
Offering two autographs in every box, 2022 Panini Contenders Optic Football is led by chromium Rookie Ticket autographs.
A yearly favorite for NFL fans, 2022 Panini Contenders Football supplies another batch of Rookie Ticket cards featuring top first-year talent.
The Optichrome NBA brand is back via 2021-22 Panini Contenders Optic Basketball. Find one autograph per Hobby box.
Find the popular Rookie Ticket cards and more with 2021-22 Panini Contenders Basketball. Hobby boxes offer two autographs.
Find Rookie Ticket cards along with more Optichrome options in 2021 Panini Contenders Optic Football. Hobby boxes average two autographs.
Collect the latest batch of NFL Rookie Ticket autographs in 2021 Panini Contenders Football. Hobby boxes offer five signed cards.
Collect the next collegiate chapter with 2021 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Football. Each Hobby box contains six autographs.
2021 Panini Contenders Baseball offers a second straight year of the MLBPA set. Look for six autographs per Hobby box.
Chase Optichrome Rookie Ticket autographs and more in 2020-21 Panini Contenders Optic Basketball. Each NBA Hobby box has one autograph.
Chase NBA Rookie Ticket autographs (and more) in 2020-21 Panini Contenders Basketball. Hobby boxes average two signed cards.
Collect Optichrome editions of the popular Contenders NFL series with 2020 Panini Contenders Optic Football. Every Hobby box holds two autographs.
Among the most popular NFL releases every season, 2020 Panini Contenders Football is back with five autographs per Hobby box.
The new football card collecting season starts at the collegiate level in 2020 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Football. Each Hobby box averages six autographs.
Returning as a standalone MLBPA set, 2020 Panini Contenders Baseball mixes on-card Rookie Ticket autographs with many inserts and parallels.
Bringing an Optichrome finish to Contenders NBA fans for a second year, 2019-20 Panini Contenders Optic Basketball contains one autograph per box.
2019-20 Panini Contenders Hockey builds on the Rookie Ticket line with a two-player approach. The online-only set includes hard-signed autographs for Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov.
Collect the 2019 NBA Draft rookie class for the first time via 2019-20 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Basketball. The NCAA set covers past and recent college stars who made the jump to the NBA.
Chase the popular NBA Rookie Ticket autographs in 2019-20 Panini Contenders Basketball. Each Hobby box averages two autographs.
Collect Contenders Rookie Ticket autographs with an Optichrome finish via 2019 Panini Contenders Optic Football. Each Hobby box contains two autographs with one hard-signed edition.
2019 Panini Contenders Football supplies a new year of Rookie Ticket autographs. Each NFL Hobby box averages five signed cards.
Chase incoming rookie stars and former legends with an NCAA theme in 2019 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Football. Hobby boxes average six autographs.
Featuring recent draftees, 2019 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Baseball highlights top prospects from a college angle as well as international signings. Every Hobby box should have six autographs.
2018-19 Panini Contenders Optic Basketball joins the NBA card lineup for the first time with one autograph per box. The set is headlined by on-card Rookie Ticket autographs.
The collecting season restarts with 2018-19 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Basketball. Led by the hard-signed RPS College Ticket cards, the set offers something for both NBA and NCAA fans.
With many on-card Rookie Ticket autographs to chase, 2018-19 Panini Contenders Basketball supplies NBA collectors with key RC choices. Hobby boxes average two autographs apiece.
It’s hard to go wrong with on-card NFL Rookie Ticket autographs and Opti-Chrome, which is very clear in 2018 Panini Contenders Optic Football. Each Hobby box includes two autographs.
The Rookie Ticket chase begins anew. Find five NFL autographs, with at least one on-card version, in each Hobby box of 2018 Panini Contenders Football.
2018 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Football proves you are never too old to go back to school! The autograph-filled set puts six signed cards in every hobby box.
Looking back at the collegiate affiliation for many notable players, 2018 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Baseball takes a special interest in the recent MLB draftees.
Featuring incoming rookie stars in their college gear, some even with on on-card signatures, 2017-18 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Basketball has an autograph-per-pack hobby format.
Chase NBA Rookie Ticket autographs for first-year players with 2017-18 Panini Contenders Basketball! Each hobby box averages a pair of autographs.
Contenders 2.0 with an Opti-Chrome blast, 2017 Panini Contenders Optic Football mixes a few known elements to get the one-pack formula in place. The end result is two NFL autographs per box.
The hobby heavyweight, 2017 Panini Contenders Football is again headlined by Rookie Ticket autographs for the top NFL draftees. Every hobby box promises at least five signed cards.
Featuring an early look at top players of the ’17 NFL Draft, 2017 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Football offers a familiar mix of college cards and autograph tickets.
Featuring one autograph per pack, 2017 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Baseball shines the light on former college stars with the popular Ticket design.
2016-17 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Basketball documents the NBA, and new rookie class, from a college perspective. Every hobby box contains five autographs.
2016 Panini Contenders Football is back as one of the biggest NFL sets of the year. The rookie-centered release promises five to six autographs per hobby box including at least one on-card RPS signature.
Continuing the NCAA theme for another year, 2016 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Football again incorporates the popular brand with a college focus. Hobby boxes promise five autographs.
With five autographs per box, 2015-16 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Basketball takes the Contenders brand back to school. The product includes top current stars, 2015 NBA rookies and WNBA rookies.
Promising five autographs per hobby box, including 1-2 on-card autographs, 2015 Panini Contenders Football is back as one of the most popular rookie options for collectors.
2015 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Football kicks off the card maker’s NCAA near-exclusive license with six autographs per hobby box. Players in the 2015 NFL Draft are emphasized.
2015 Panini Contenders Baseball returns to the hobby with a college theme. The revamped product includes six autographs per box.
2014 Panini Contenders Football has a lot of Rookie Ticket Autograph Variations. Find out about them all, how to spot them, side-by-side comparisons and more.
2014 Panini Contenders Football returns with a new batch of Rookie Ticket Autographs and other inserts. Hobby boxes have five total autographs including at least two that are signed on-card.
2013-14 Panini Contenders Hockey sticks with what the brand is known for. Delivering four autographs per hobby box, highlights include Rookie Ticket Autographs and other signed sets.
2013 Panini Contenders Football once again places a huge emphasis on Rookie Ticket Autographs, some of the most popular rookie cards in the hobby.
2012-13 Panini Contenders Basketball has a configuration aimed at set builders who like a little rookie ink. Hobby boxes have four signatures, including at least three autographed rookie cards.
Celebrating its 20th season in the hobby, 2012 Panini Contenders delivers five autographs in every box, including a pair of on-card signatures. Rookie Ticket Autographs are inspired by the landmark 1998 Playoff Contenders design.
2011-12 Panini Contenders Hockey puts a huge emphasis on autographs. Falling three or four per box, collectors can look for signatures from a broad mix of rookie, veteran and retired players. Book cards offer up to six autographs.
2011 Playoff Contenders Football sees the return of Rookie Ticket Autographs rookie cards. Every box includes four autographs, including two on-card rookie signatures.
Panini is sticking with a prospect focus for their second MLBPA-licensed baseball card release, 2011 Playoff Contenders Baseball, which includes autographs from 150 up-and-coming stars. Boxes come with six autographs, including two on-card signatures.
Panini’s flagship brand hits the ice for a first skate in the hockey sector of the hobby this March. Each box is set to deliver 4 hits, 3 of which are on-card Rookie Ticket autographs and the potential for plenty other cold as ice cards including 1/1 Golden Ticket parallels made from 11 grams of actual gold! 2010-11 Playoff Contenders Hockey is set to release on March 30th with a hobby box price of around $130-$150.