Arguably the greatest player in the sport’s history, he’s a seven-time Super Bowl champion, and five-time Super Bowl MVP.
Brady famously “retired” in February 2022, which lasted just 40 days before he returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 44-year-old has records for all-time completions (7,263), passing yards (84,520), passing touchdowns (624), starts (316), Pro Bowl selections and Super Bowl MVPs while never registering a losing season across his time with the Patriots and Bucs.
Here’s what you need to know about the best Tom Brady rookie cards to collect, as we give the lowdown on 10 top options.
The Best Tom Brady Rookie Cards
Tom Brady rookie cards were released back in 2000, and there are over 40 to chase.
10. 2000 Bowman Chrome Tom Brady RC #236 (eBay)
Featuring an in-game action shot of Brady, the 2000 Bowman Chrome RC is the first to make the list. It’s not serial numbered, but pristine versions will easily sell for five figures when graded. (There’s also a Refractor version of the Bowman Chrome RC which lacks a serial number.)
As with many of the others mentioned below, the colored border is susceptible to scuffing easily.
9. 2000 Donruss Elite Tom Brady RC #183 #/2,000 (eBay)
2000 Donruss Elite has a Brady rookie card that is numbered to 2,000. Undoubtedly the top option from the set, the first 500 in the print run were die-cut, with the final 1,500 issued as regular cards.
As you may have guessed, the die-cut version is more valuable thanks to the smaller selection available. I’ve recently seen some of the regular cards selling for under $800, which is fairly cheap for a Brady RC.
8. 2000 E-X Tom Brady RC #122 #/1,500 (eBay)
Despite using a stiffer image of Brady than the others, a healthy print run of 1,500 has ensured that the 2000 E-X RC makes the top 10. In terms of design, the QB is wearing sweatpants and a helmet, and is seen from a side profile.
The card has been given a gold chrome finish for text and logos, with red and blue colored corners. Expect a PSA 9/BGS 9 graded version to set you back by over $5,000.
7. 2000 Pacific Private Stock Tom Brady RC #128 #/278 (eBay)
2000 Pacific Private Stock doesn’t have the greatest aesthetic appeal, but the base copy has a print run of just 278. That makes it the rarest Brady RC overall, and it’s noteworthy for that reason alone.
Further parallels include Silver (#/330), Gold (#/181), and Premiere Date (#/95), as well as a Retail version (#/650) which can be seen above. With a higher print run, Retail is the most affordable version.
6. 2000 Playoff Momentum Tom Brady RC #180 #/750 (eBay)
The 2000 Playoff Momentum collection features another Patriots Brady card as one of the main attractions.
Colored borders make it tough to locate in pristine condition, while it has a strong shot of the rookie QB with a football clutched in both hands.
A lined foil background and a limited print run of 750 also help it to stand out from the crowd.
5. 2000 SPx Tom Brady RC #130 #/1,350 (eBay)
Wedged in between a couple of rookie cards with significantly lower print runs, the 2000 SPx Tom Brady Rookie Stars card earns its spot on the list thanks to strong branding and a memorable design. There might be 1,350 copies, but it’s still favored by many collectors.
The Rookie Stars release also has a Spectrum parallel numbered to 25. You’ll see an example in the image above, with red foil used for the serial number and the finish.
4. 2000 Pacific Revolution Tom Brady RC #128 #/300 (eBay)
The eye-catching release from 2000 Pacific Revolution is another with a smaller print run. (This time, there were only 300 copies produced.) The multicolored background makes it easy to spot, while the majority of these cards have already been graded. This means that it’s unlikely there are many hidden potential PSA 10 copies left to be found.
Of the 92 that have been sent to PSA, only 10 have earned a Gem Mint designation at the current time of writing.
3. 2000 Leaf Limited Tom Brady RC #378 #/350 (eBay)
The clue is in the name, as the 2000 Leaf Limited Tom Brady RC only has 350 copies.
They’ve opted for a strong action shot which shows the legendary QB as he prepares to release the pigskin. In fact, it’s one of the few cards to show Brady wearing the famous number 12 jersey for the Patriots, which is another added bonus for fans.
2. 2000 SP Authentic Tom Brady RC #118 #/1,250 (eBay)
The 2000 SP Authentic Tom Brady RC has a print run of 1,250, which is actually pretty rare when all things are considered. It also has an especially clean design that stands the test of time.
One of the more popular Brady rookie cards, the embossed Future Watch release easily sells for five figures when graded. For example, a duo of PSA 8 copies sold for roughly $27,000 in May 2022.
Of course, the price goes up rapidly if you’re looking at gem mint/pristine versions. A PSA 10 copy sold for $95,613 in January 2021.
1. 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady RC #144 Autograph (eBay)
It makes sense to save the most important card until last.
The 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady RC is the best of the options released to commemorate his rookie season by a wide margin. If you hadn’t guessed, that’s due to the Contenders card being the only signed Brady RC.
The design uses a familiar Rookie Ticket format, and it’s hard-signed in black in at the bottom. A version of the Championship parallel which is limited to just 100 copies sold for $2.25m in April 2021. At the time, ESPN reported:
“Brady’s rookie card sold in March  for $1.32 million, believed to be a record high for any football card, and now the same type of card has blown past that record, selling for $2.25 million on Friday.”
It’s arguably the most significant football card in the modern hobby.
Tom Brady Rookie Cards: Buyers Guide
Here’s what we think of the current state of the market for the best Tom Brady RCs.
It’s going to be tough to find ‘cheap’ Tom Brady rookie cards, even with a large selection to pick from. Options with serial numbered print runs are still likely to set you back by at least four figures.
You should be able to find base cards with a lower grade released in 2000-01 for under $200.
The Contenders RC is a clear frontrunner thanks to the on-card auto, along with the most brand awareness. If money is no object, this would be the one to collect.
With seven rings across three different decades, the best Tom Brady RCs are always going to sell for a premium. He’s a living legend within the sport, and a player that the next generation aspires to emulate.
He might have decided against retirement for now, but all things must come to an end. It’s hard to think of many players that are seen as better investments within the hobby given his long list of achievements.
Demand currently seems to exceed supply for most of the best options.