Evaluating the DeShaun Watson Rookie Card Comeback

Scandals can break an athlete’s career. They can also send the value of a star athlete’s rookie cards and collectibles down into the dirt. But what about when the news around a scandal starts to look less destructive to an athlete’s career? And what about when the player in question is traded away after not being allowed to play in the prior season? Please note that all comments and opinions about this subject are not being monitored and are not being addressed other than how this currently pertains to rookie cards in the hobby of sports collectibles.

The news has shifted more favorably for DeShaun Watson in the last week and a half. Without surprise, there has also been a lot of activity in the hobby in his rookie cards and lower population cards. This star quarterback for the ailing Houston Texans is now headed to the Cleveland Browns.

Collectors Dashboard wanted to evaluate the rookie card comeback that has been seen on eBay and elsewhere in DeShaun Watson rookie cards. One problem that exists in evaluating Watson’s rookie cards is that there are so many parallel issues in the Prizm rookies long before getting into the RPA issues (rookie patch auto).

The DeShaun Watson 2017 Panini Donruss Base “Rated Rookie” #345 card is one of the go-to DeShaun Watson rookie card. There is also the 2017 Panini Prizm, again with numerous color and style variations which make this the most popular of his rookies based on populations.

According to the PSA population reports, there are 2,732 base graded examples of this 2017 Panini Donruss card of DeShaun Watson, plus another 45 with the “+” (0.5) grades. Of those, just 754 examples are at the pristine PSA 10 grade, and there are 1,708 examples at the PSA grade. Another 230 examples are graded PSA 8 and 43 are graded PSA 8.5.

It was just in February 2022, before the news that Watson was not going to face charges that his PSA 10 2017 Panini Donruss cards were selling for $110 to $115 per card in eBay auctions, and that was actually under $100 in January and December. Those are now mostly as “Buy It Now” formats in recent days with prices all above $200 per PSA 10 card over the last week. Many of the “Buy It Now” prices were last seen above $300 and this was two of the “ending soonest” auction format prices:

  • $199.00 after 2 bids with 9 hours and 58 minutes
  • $152.50 after 25 bids with 3 days and 8 hours to go

The 2017 Panini Prizm #279 “base” Prizm card has 3,611 graded examples at the base grades, with another 6 examples of the “+” (0.5) grades and 1 “Q” grade. Of the 3,617 vase and “+” grades there are 2,310 PSA 10 examples, and 1,195 PSA 9 graded examples. After that, the populations are too low to matter so only PSA 9 and PSA 10 cards will matter to most collectors here.

Where things get more difficult is in the multiple variations, listed here by the description, total graded examples and PSA 10 examples:

  • Blue Prizm – 4 of all PSA grades and 1 of the PSA 10 grades
  • Blue Wave Prizm – 61 of all PSA grades and 29 of the PSA 10 grades
  • Bronze Stars – 5 of all PSA grades and 4 of the PSA 10 grades
  • Camo Prizm – 10 of all PSA grades and 3 of the PSA 10 grades
  • Disco Prizm – 120 of all PSA grades and 38 of the PSA 10 grades
  • Gold Prizm – 6 of all PSA grades and 5 of the PSA 10 grades
  • Gold Vinyl – 2 of all PSA grades and ZERO PSA 10 grades
  • Green Prizm – 89 of all PSA grades and 53 of the PSA 10 grades
  • Green Scope Prizm – 30 of all PSA grades and 23 of the PSA 10 grades
  • Light Blue Prizm – 76 of all PSA grades and 44 of the PSA 10 grades
  • Orange Prizm – 109 of all PSA grades and 48 of the PSA 10 grades
  • Pink Prizm – 45 of all PSA grades and 31 of the PSA 10 grades
  • Purple Crystals Prizm – 33 of all PSA grades and 23 of the PSA 10 grades
  • Red Power – 22 of all PSA grades and 13 of the PSA 10 grades
  • Red Prizm – 8 of all PSA grades and 3 of the PSA 10 grades
  • Red White & Blue – 199 of all PSA grades and 120 of the PSA 10 grades
  • White Sparkle Prizm – 12 of all PSA grades and 8 of the PSA 10 grades

And if this isn’t an even more difficult scenario, the SGC population reports list 24 different Deshaun Watson types of parallels and variations within the 2017 Panini Prizm set. The Silver Prizm is the largest graded population there with a total of 91 graded examples by SGC — with 2 examples at 10 PRI; 20 at SGC 10; and 33 at SGC 9.5.

While this is not a PSA graded example, a Deshaun Watson 2017 Panini Prizm Silver Prizm Rookie RC graded SGC 9 Mint sold for $190.50 after 42 bids on March 17, 2022. Another SGC graded example of a rookie card was the DeShaun Watson 2017 Donruss Optic RC Rookie Card #195 Graded SGC 9 MINT that sold for $90.00 after 30 bids on March 19.

In auction format only on eBay, a 2017 Optic Deshaun Watson Rc Rookie Green Prizm SSP /5 PSA 10 Gem Mint with a current bid of $2,375.00 (after 39 bids, with 1 day and 8 hours remaining) was the highest priced auction item. There are many Buy It Now prices that are $10,000 to $25,000 — and three with prices from $45,000 to $499,999.99 but those three all have the “or Best Offer” designation that makes actual price discovery almost impossible.

The website currently has many of the various 2017 Panini Prizm variations. In fact, that was 287 examples of them, but not all are graded and many are not even the 2017 variations. The rookie year Prizm’s are listed for prices up to $2,450.00 but whether they actually sell for anywhere up to that remains to be seen.

Before trying to rank any RPA issues (rookie patch auto) jumping straight up to the highest scale of the past was the 2017 National Treasures RC RPA #169. Good luck finding one, and in the past this was considered one of the highest Watson rookie cards that could be found.

A 2017 Donruss Optic DeShaun Watson Holo Prizm RC Rookie Card #195 (PSA 9 MINT) sold for $177.50 after 39 bids on March 17, 2022. A 2017 Donruss Deshaun Watson Rc Rookie PSA 10 Gem Mint sold for $187.50 after 41 bids on March 19, 2022

And in the prized Kaboom cards, only two DeShaun Watson cards have sold and they were before the news of no charges and a trade — one was a 2019 Absolute Kaboom for $500.00 (but just 1 bid on Jan. 15, 2022) and another was a 2019 Panini Absolute Kaboom /10 in a PSA 9 grade at $2,225.00 after 26 bids (December 22, 2021).

The PWCC Marketplace results show two sales that took place after the news changes in the March 13, 2022 weekly auction. A 2017 Panini XR Orange Deshaun Watson RPA /5 #162 BGS 9.5 GEM MINT (BGS Population 1 of 1 – None Graded Higher) sold for $1,170.00 on March 13, 2022. A 2017 Panini Phoenix Green Prime Deshaun Watson RPA /10 BGS 9.5 (BGS Population 1 of 2 – None Graded Higher) sold for $930.00 on March 13, 2022. PWCC also had 114 “2017 DeShaun Watson” live items for sale from its vaulting service.

The Sports Card Investor app shows that the 2017 Donruss Base rookie DeShaun Watson cards have risen in price by nearly 17% in the last 7-day period and risen by nearly 94% in the last month. It was the #31 trending card.

The Alt app (OnlyAlt) showed a 5.3% rise in prices over the last 7 days and had Watson as the #7 ranked gainer in football. Alt currently showed 11 listings for “DeShaun Watson 2017” in its listings.

And now all we have to do is wait and see how the DeShaun Watson and Baker Mayfield saga plays out and how Watson actually performs.