The era of Tom Brady as the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has come to an end. The all-time great quarterback said he was retiring from the NFL for good on February 1. This was his second straight year of retirement announcements.

Since Brady was going to become an unrestricted free agent again at the age of 45, Tampa Bay had to have been considering a replacement for him long before he announced his choice. To replace Brady as their starting quarterback, the Bucs will need to make a splash in free agency and/or the draft.

When the Buccaneers have stabilized their salary cap position without Brady, they may begin exploring free-agent options among established veterans. The club possesses nine draft picks, including the nineteenth overall pick in the first round. In light of all that, let’s take a look at the three best candidates for the Bucs’ next quarterback:

Jimmy Garoppolo – free agent

While Garoppolo’s attempts to take over for Brady with the Patriots were limited to a few Deflategate-related fill-in starts (along with Brissett), he has a chance to do it on a regular basis with the Buccaneers. He has nearly fully recovered from the damage to his left foot. If Trey Lance (broken ankle) and Brock Purdy both are able to play quarterback for San Francisco, the city is in for a thrilling QB fight (elbow surgery).

Garoppolo has had success under both Josh McDaniel and Kyle Shanahan, so he should feel at home in any system the Buccaneers play. He is also used to successfully relying on a supporting cast to achieve victory. The big issue is whether Garoppolo thinks there are other opportunities that are more alluring to him.

Anthony Richardson – draft

The Buccaneers snatched Trask away from Dan Mullen and the Gators. Overall, Billy Napier’s offense has made Richardson a more promising prospect. Even though Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, and probably Will Levis will be selected before Richardson, the Buccaneers may have a better chance at the newest professional Gator if they choose No. 20 instead of the Seahawks.

If Richardson, who is 6-4 and 232 pounds, can work on his mechanics, downfield accuracy, and decision-making, he will unlock his tremendous potential as a quarterback. Since the Buccaneers fired Byron Leftwich as offensive coordinator, there is one more unknown factor in addition to Brady’s absence.

Baker Mayfield – free agent

Mayfield is eligible since Monken served as Cleveland’s offensive coordinator for one season (2019). Despite the disappointing outcome, Monken seemed to like many facets of Mayfield’s game and may believe he can get more out of him as a more seasoned option with an improved supporting cast.

This is why the Bucs chose Mayfield over Sam Darnold, Andy Dalton, and others, but the reuniting isn’t enough to make this a sure thing.