Coined a generational talent and selected as the second pick in the 2018 draft, Barkley became the highest drafted running back since Reggie Bush in 2006. With the hype surrounding Barkley, many collectors began snatching up cards for whatever price they’re asked to pay. Last summer, before he’d ever played in an NFL game, a Donruss Elite Saquon Barkley autographed card (numbered to 10), sold for $3,600 in auction.
There’s no doubt that Saquon Barkley is an incredible talent and holds significant value, but we think that it might be wise to sell for now. Here’s why:
Reason 1: Too much hype
Even with all of the hype and the lofty expectations, Barkley didn’t disappoint in his rookie season. After compiling over 2,000 total yards and 15 touchdowns, he went on to be named the NFL’s Rookie of the Year. Because of these achievements, we’d deduct that Barkley lived up to the hype on the field. Despite his amazing debut season in the league, that same Donruss Elite Barkley card is now listed for a fraction of the price that it previously sold for.
Many collectors get the urge to be the first to have a prospect’s card while others are drawn to the mystery of the unknown. Because Barkley will now be entering his second year, we’d anticipate yet another slight price drop with new players luring in the interest of investors. (Click for more on these trends.)
Reason 2: Running backs have lower price ceilings
Historically, quarterbacks have held higher values than running backs. This is typically due to the quarterback being the face of the team and garnering much of the media’s attention. When a team succeeds, the quarterback is praised as a competitor or leader. When they lose, he’s usually blamed.
There are exceptions to the idea, but that’s typically how the league works. That’s not to mention that the league has continued to shift into more of a passing game than a running one. This has given us reason to pause on Barkley as his cards have been selling for as much or more than the quarterbacks of his class (Baker may be the lone exception).
Reason 3: The all-time greats haven’t touched Barkley’s value
Think Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, and Adrian Peterson. Each of these guys has been coined a generational talent, like Barkley. Not only did they come into the league with high expectations, these guys went on to have incredible careers and break records in the meantime.
If you ran a search of recently sold items, you’d find that you could buy one (maybe multiple!) of the all-time greats for the prices of some of the recently sold Barkley cards. We find it hard to believe that this type of investment makes sense.. unless Saquon logs a career that erases the others from our minds and the record books.
Reason 4: It’s not just a different era
This is for those of you that might offer the objection that the hobby is different than it was when Payton, Sanders, or Peterson were playing. The hobby has changed, you’re right.
Let’s compare Barkley to another player that’s been tearing up the NFL the last couple seasons: Alvin Kamara.
Maybe this is more of a foundation for a future article, but it’s definitely worth considering if you’re holding or thinking of investing in a Barkley. Kamara, while splitting time with Mark Ingram in New Orleans, has accumulated over 3,000 yards of total offense and 30 touchdowns in his two years with the team. These numbers aren’t all that different from what Saquon produced as the feature back in New York. Despite his impressive outputs, Kamara’s values are much more affordable than the cost of Barkley’s.
We certainly don’t have anything bad to say about Barkley. If we did, you should question our credibility. What we are trying to suggest is that Saquon is selling at unprecedented heights right now and we don’t foresee them continuing to go up. Maybe this will be our Mike Trout and Saquon prices will break the mold, but, at this point, we’re not anticipating that to be the case.
Our advice: Sell High (at least hold off on buying)
In our weekly Cards to Consider articles, we’ll offer our speculation of the card market by looking into various factors surrounding players from each sport. If you’d like these weekly articles to your inbox, we’d be happy to have you sign up and follow along!