Who should Tom Brady choose as his next team? The list of suitors is rather short

In 2012, Peyton Manning hit free agency. His health was a concern, but he had a few serious suitors.

The Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers made the strongest plays for Manning. Manning chose the Broncos. He had three fine individual seasons there, and was part of a Super Bowl championship team in his fourth and final Denver season even as his own play eroded. No other Hall of Fame quarterback has had two distinctly successful chapters with separate teams like Manning did.

Tom Brady, like Manning eight years ago, is embarking on free agency for the first time. If he makes the right decision on a new team, he could add a chapter that will boost his legacy even further. Imagine if Brady can win big without Bill Belichick.

As Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reported on Monday, two outside suitors emerged for Brady. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Chargers are both in the mix. Perhaps now that Brady has made his Patriots exit official, other teams might call.

Here’s a look at Brady’s options, and the best spot for him to land:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers have not hid their desire to land Brady. Coach Bruce Arians mentioned Brady at the NFL scouting combine, which could draw a tampering charge if the Patriots wanted to make it an issue. Either way, it’s no secret the Bucs want Brady.

The positives are that Arians is a great offensive coach, and the Buccaneers have two great receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. On paper, Brady doesn’t fit Arians’ offense. Arians likes the deep ball, which the 42-year-old Brady doesn’t specialize in anymore. Arians’ quarterbacks often take deep drops and stand in against the rush, which seems like a bad idea for Brady. But Arians is a smart coach and he’d adjust to Brady, not the other way around.

The Buccaneers weren’t bad last season. They were 7-9 despite 30 interceptions from quarterback Jameis Winston. Could they take the next step with better quarterback play? Obviously the Buccaneers believe so. It’s not an obvious fit, given Arians’ preferred offense, but there’s enough talent to make it work.

Los Angeles Chargers

Brady makes a lot of sense for the Chargers. The Chargers are anonymous in Los Angeles, and what better way to get some headlines than to sign the only six-time champion in NFL history? Most NFL teams don’t need to worry about the bottom line — most teams would sell out with a scarecrow at quarterback — but the Chargers might. And they have moved on from Philip Rivers, with Tyrod Taylor as their current top option to start opening day.

The Chargers have plenty of weapons too. Keenan Allen is a star, Mike Williams has shown flashes of being great, Hunter Henry could be a top tight end if he can stay healthy and Austin Ekeler can be Brady’s new James White, a playmaker as a receiver out of the backfield. The Chargers have a talented defense, too. Los Angeles always seems to underachieve and it’s not like Rivers was a bad player. Could Brady do that much better? It wouldn’t be a return to the Bay Area, where Brady grew up, but a move back to California might appeal to him.

One thing to consider: The Chargers host the Patriots during the 2020 season, while the Buccaneers don’t. That might be a factor if playing against the Patriots would appeal to Brady.

The long shots: Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants

The Bears seemed to be linked to any remotely available quarterback on Monday, so perhaps they’ll consider Brady now that they know he’s free. Brady would get to play with a stellar defense, on a team only a season removed from an NFC North title.

The Colts also have a strong roster and want a new quarterback. They were reportedly talking to Philip Rivers on Monday, but what if the Patriots take a look at Rivers or the Colts simply feel Brady is the better option?

The New York Giants were mentioned early on as a candidate, because former Patriots assistant Joe Judge is their coach and former Patriots assistants can’t resist signing old New England players. Brady to New York seems very unlikely, but we’ll see.

Maybe there’s some mystery team that will pop out of nowhere, like the Las Vegas Raiders (Marcus Mariota could back up Brady as well as he could back up Derek Carr). But realistically, it seems like the list is down to two teams, the Chargers and Bucs.

Brady will need to choose wisely, because like Manning eight years ago, a great second act could end up being a big part of his NFL legacy.

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Tom Brady through the years
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Tom Brady through the years
FOXBORO, UNITED STATES: The New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady passes against the Indianapolis Colts in the first quarter of their game at Foxboro Stadium 30 September 2001 in Foxboro, MA. AFP PHOTO/John MOTTERN (Photo credit should read JOHN MOTTERN/AFP/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, UNITED STATES: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reacts in pain on the bench after being knocked out of the game with a leg injury in the second quarter of the AFC Championship game 27 January, 2002 at Heinz Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA. The winner will face either the St. Louis Rams or the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl. AFP PHOTO/Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, UNITED STATES: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (C) takes a hit from Charles Woodson (R) of the Oakland Raiders on a pass attempt in the last two minutes of the game in their AFC playoff 19 January 2002 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots won 16-13 in overtime. AFP PHOTO/Matt CAMPBELL (Photo credit should read MATT CAMPBELL/AFP/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, UNITED STATES: New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady shows frustration after failing to make a two point conversion in the 4th quarter against the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium 27 October,2002 in Foxboro, MA. AFP PHOTO/JOHN MOTTERN (Photo credit should read JOHN MOTTERN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, UNITED STATES: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady pitches the ball to a back during first half action of Super Bowl XXXVI 03 February, 2002 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots are playing for the NFL championship. AFP PHOTO/Tom SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, UNITED STATES: AFC Champions New England Patriots players (L to R) Ty Law, Troy Brown, Lawyer Milloy, and Tom Brady strike a pose for photographers during the team's photo and interview day 29 January 2002 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. The Patriots will take on the NFC Champions St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI on 03 February. AFP PHOTO/Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Tom Brady received Best Breakthrough Athlete at ESPN's 10th Annual Espy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Ca. Wednesday, July 10, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 1: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates after defeating the Carolina Panthers 32-29 during Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 1: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on before Super Bowl XXXVIII against the Carolina Panthers at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
HOUSTON - FEBRUARY 1: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks to toss the ball to a running back against the Carolina Panthers during Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas. The Patriots defeated the Panthers 32-29. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 9: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws a pass against the Indianapolis Colts during the NFL game at Gillette Stadium on September 9, 2004 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 16: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts during the AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 16, 2005 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Tom Brady of The New England Patriots speaks with the media during media day at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida on February 1, 2005. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 06: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with the Lombardi trophy after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium on February 6, 2005 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Patriots defeated the Eagles 24-21. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - JANUARY 23: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers with the Lamar Hunt Trohpy in the AFC championship game at Heinz Field on January 23, 2005 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Patriots defeated the Steelers 41-27 to advance to the Super Bowl. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
DENVER - OCTOBER 16: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots heads for the bench after a failed offensive drive against the Denver Broncos as the Broncos defeated the Patriots 28-20 at Invesco Field at Mile High on October 16, 2005 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 8: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots runs off the field after winning the 2005 NFL opening game against the Oakland Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 8, 2005 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Raiders 30-20. (Photo by Travis Lindquist/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 29: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots points out the defense against the New York Giants on December 29, 2007 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 29: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with Richard Seymour #93 after defeating the New York Giants to go undefeated for the season on December 29, 2007 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots stretches before taking on the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is hit as he throws by defensive tackle Barry Cofield #96 and Osi Umenyiora #72 of the New York Giants in the first half during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is hit hard by Michael Strahan #92 of the New York Giants in the second quarter during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots takes the field for the second half of Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots walks on the field in the second quarter of Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 7: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is helped off the field by trainers after he sustained an injury to his left knee in the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium September 7, 2008 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 18: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots congratulates Wes Welker #83 after Welker ran the ball in for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans on October 18, 2009 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. BenJarvis Green-Ellis #42 of the Patriots celebrates the play. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25: Tom Brady (#12) of the New England Patriots directs the play during the NFL International Series match between New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium on October 25, 2009 in London, England. This is the third occasion where a regular season NFL match has been played in London. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)
DENVER - OCTOBER 11: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots passes against the Denver Broncos during an NFL game at Invesco Field at Mile High on October 11, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots reacts after an incomplete pass in the second quarter while taking on the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots screams during pregame before taking on the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots calls out from under center in the first half while taking on the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 29: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots talks to Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants following their preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August 29, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 13: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots talks with Darren Sproles #43 of the New Orleans Saints after the game at Gillette Stadium on October 13, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.The New England Patriots defeated the New Orleans Saints 30-27. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 13: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints shakes hands with quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots following the Patriots 30-27 win at Gillette Stadium on October 13, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 18: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 18, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 15: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 15: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warms up during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on December 15, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 8: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates the game-winning touchdown with Julian Edelman #11 in the 4th quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 8, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 22: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates a second half touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens during the Patriots 41-7 win at M&T Bank Stadium on December 22, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19: Tom Brady #12 talks to Shane Vereen #34 of the New England Patriots on a foutrh down in the fourth quarter during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 11: Tom Brady (R) #12 of the New England Patriots shakes hands with Andrew Luck (L) #12 of the Indianapolis Colts after their AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The New England Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 43 to 22. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 11: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots runs off the field after defeating the Indianapolis Colts in their AFC Divisional Playoff game at Gillette Stadium on January 11, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The New England Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 43 to 22. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 19: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots congratulates Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos after the Broncos defeated the Patriots 26 to 16 during the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 19, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 07: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots walks offsides the field in the first quarter of play against the Miami Dolphins in a game at Sun Life Stadium on September 7, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 07: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots stands on the sideline during pregame workouts before his team met the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on September 7, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 26: Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warm up before a game against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium on October 26, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 16: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots signals a first down against the Indianapolis Colts during the third quarter of the game at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 16, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 07: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warms up before a game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on December 7, 2014 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 10: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warms up before the 2014 AFC Divisional Playoffs game against the Baltimore Ravens at Gillette Stadium on January 10, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22: New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady talks to the media during a press conference to address the under inflation of footballs used in the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots walks off the field after throwing an interception against the Seattle Seahawks in the first quarter during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates after a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 to win Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with team owner Robert Kraft after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 4: Benjamin Brady (L) holds the Lombardi trophy next to his dad, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, on a duck boat during the New England Patriots victory parade on February 4, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons' Brooks Reed (R) puts pressure on New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady during the second quarter of Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson
New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady reacts after his team defeated the Atlanta Falcons at Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas, U.S., February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
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