2020 Panini Contenders Optic Football Has Rookies Shine in New Ways


At its core, 2020 Panini Contenders Optic Football once again offers an opti-chrome spin on the year’s main Contenders set. That means colorful parallels throughout the checklist and the customary focus on autographs. But the main base set has a shift that changes the overall makeup somewhat.

2020 Panini Contenders Optic Football Checklist Overview

Contenders Optic maintains the same general design as Contenders, only with a flashier stock. It’s like Donruss and Donruss Optic. The ticket layout is the anchor, a feature that has long made Contenders distinct.

2020 Panini Contenders Optic Football Patrick Mahomes

This time around, rookies aren’t limited to Rookie Ticket Autographs. They have a regular Rookie Ticket subset as well, which should work to make for more accessible (and affordable) Rookie Cards.

2020 Panini Contenders Optic Football Orange Joe Burrow

Parallels for the base set combine to land per hobby box. These include:

  • Silver
  • Red – /175
  • Blue – /99
  • Orange – /50
  • Green Pulsar – /27
  • Cracked Ice – /22
  • Gold – /10
  • Nebula – /2
  • Gold Vinyl – 1/1

Autographs and Other Inserts

Although rookies now have unsigned cards, that doesn’t mean the end of Rookie Ticket Autographs. They’re still very much a part of the product.

Rookie Ticket RPS Autographs come with on-card signatures from key first-year standouts including Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow and Chase Young.

2020 Panini Contenders Optic Football Rookie Ticket Autograph

In addition to the standard cards, there are ten levels of parallels:

  • Silver
  • Red – /199 or less
  • Teal – /99 or less
  • Blue – /75 or less
  • Orange – /50 or less
  • Green Pulsar – /27 or less
  • Cracked Ice – /22 or less
  • Gold – /10 or less
  • Nebula – /2
  • Gold Vinyl – 1/1

More key rookie ink is available in Rookie of the Year Contenders Autographs. Color-based versions for these come in Blue (/75 or less), Orange (/50 or less), Green Pulsar (/27), Gold (/10), Nebula (/2) and Gold Vinyl (1/1).

2020 Contenders Optic goes back in time for a couple of additional autograph inserts.

2000 Contenders Throwback Rookie Autographs use the 20-year-old design as a backdrop for cards from current rookies.

2012 Contenders Tribute Autographs recreate original Rookie Tickets with new Chrome versions.

Autographs combine to fall two per hobby box.

Collectors will also find one additional insert in their boxes. MVP Contenders highlights top players.

End Zone is a new addition to the checklist. These card use photos from the end of the field.

2020 Panini Contenders Optic Football End Zone

2020 Panini Contenders Optic Football cards at a glance:

Cards per pack: 6
Packs per box: 1
Boxes per case: 20
Set size: TBA
Release date: February 24, 2021

What to expect in a hobby box:

  • Autographs – 2
  • Inserts – 1
  • Parallels – 1
  • Base Cards – 2

The full 2020 Panini Contenders Optic Football checklist and team set lists will be up as soon as they’re available, likely shortly before the set comes out.


Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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