Today, something big happened that some of you out there may have missed. I want to talk about it here, because it is something that could spell enormous changes in football cards starting in 2016. According to the Panini blog, Panini has signed the first player exclusive to be included in their new NFL exclusive license starting in 2016. Starting then, Dez Bryant will only sign with Panini.
You might be saying, “Well shit, Dez isnt THAT big of a player to take away!” However I think its more about the practice of signing player exclusives rather than the player who signed them. Panini will be doing more and more of this as the year progresses, with targets like Richard Sherman, Andrew Luck and other Panini Authentic signers likely joining the slate. This has never been allowed under the current licensing situation, but now that Panini has the full boat, they can pretty much do what they want.
There could be a huge change coming for sets like this as well:
Regardless of who joins the evil empire from the current slate of NFL stars isnt as big of a coup as it will be when they start signing rookies. Once the 2015 year is over, start to watch for the rookie deals being signed. If Panini performs the way they do in the NBA, I would guess none of the main draft picks for 2016 will ever be available for anyone but them.
This is where the true method is applied to the madness. With an exclusive CLC (NCAA) License, combined with the growing potential of draft picks being exclusive as well, no one else will have an opportunity to make a viable draft product any longer. Companies like UD and Leaf, who have carved out a very sizable niche in this part of the year, will be unable to build their products the way they did in the past.
Right now, I am speculating as to how this is going to go down, but this signing today is likely indicative of their plans in my opinion. I sincerely hope they dont go this direction, but a potential monopoly type lawsuit may be in the cards if they do. I can definitely see that happening. Im not sure how it is going to go down, but this is something you should feel very uneasy about if you like any sort of competition in the Football space.
Side note: I found it a bit hilarious that someone with an autograph reputation like Dez Bryant is the person they chose to be the first exclusive. Just saying.